There’s something about vintage Pendleton shirts…

Through Instagram I recently came to notice a new avenue of interest. Not that I needed one, mind you, as with a mind as brimming with curiosity as mine is, I don’t need further avenues to explore! This time though it was wool shirts that caught my eye, and not new ones either. We’re talking vintage wool shirts, from the 1930’s up to modern times, and primarily from the wool mills of Pendleton in the USA. So, today we get to talk about Pendleton wool shirts!
Pendleton wool blankets in their characteristic designs.

Pendleton wool blankets in their characteristic designs.

The Pendleton Woollen Mill opened in Oregon in 1909. Initially they produced Indian blankets (and still do today), which evolved into bathrobes and coats. They started producing mens wool shirts in 1924, expanding into a full range of menswear by 1929.
In an odd parallel to the old myth about Model T Fords, where it was said you could have any colour you wanted, as long as it was black (this wasn’t true), in 1924 you could have your wool shirt in any colour you wanted, as long as the colour you desired was grey. Pendleton took their experience with multi-coloured blankets and warm, vibrant and durable wool and started making colourful flannel shirts. Seems an obvious smart move in hindsight!
Vintage advert from 1949 for Pendleton wool shirts.

Vintage advert from 1949 for Pendleton wool shirts.

The wool Pendleton used in the 1920’s was from the sheep local to the wool mill. Taking it’s name form the area, they called the wool “Umatilla”. The high quality of the wool fabric created meant that it was more wrinkle resistant than cotton, more resistant to stains, a little more elastic, and above all, insulated better than cotton. Wool also has the added benefit that even when tightly woven it still allowed for breathability.
Remarkably, it’s still possible to find shirts dating way back to the early days of Pendleton, and even more remarkably, they’re not that expensive, and many of them are really nice.

Being new to these, and finding it quite interesting how many types there are and how to tell the difference between them, I asked George at Second State Vintage in the UK to help me out a bit.

The different Pendleton styles:

The Pendleton Field shirt.

The Pendleton Field shirt.

The Field Shirt – has a straight collar and two button-through chest pockets.
The Pendleton Trial shirt.

The Pendleton Trial shirt.

The Trail Shirt – has a straight collar, one button-through pocket and elbow patches.
The Pendleton Lodge shirt.

The Pendleton Lodge shirt.

The Lodge Shirt – has a straight collar and one pocket.
The Pendleton Fireside shirt.

The Pendleton Fireside shirt.

The Fireside Shirt – has a button-down collar and one plain pocket.
The Pendleton Board shirt.

The Pendleton Board shirt.

The Board Shirt – (made famous by the beach boys) has a straight bottom, sports collar (looped top button) and two flap pockets. The photo shown here is in fact an exact replica of the shirts worn on ‘The Beach Boys’ album cover of ‘Surfer Girl’ which gave Pendleton its rise to cult status.  The band were previously known as the ‘Pendletones’ named after the plaid shirts they wore!
The Pendleton High Grade Western shirt.

The Pendleton High Grade Western shirt.

The High Grade Western Shirt – has a snap front and cuffs with front and back peaked yokes.
Vintage ad for the rich lasting colours of Pendleton, from 1952.

Vintage ad for the rich lasting colours of Pendleton, from 1952.

And the different Pendleton labels:

With the styles sorted, it comes down to determining the period when they were made, and this can be done roughly by looking at their labels:
Pendleton label from the 1930s and 1940s.

Label from the 1930s and 1940s.

In the 1930’s and 40’s the labels did not have any sizing information on them, although there is sometimes a small white label underneath the label with the size printed on.
During World War 2 shirt manufacturing stopped and focus went into producing military uniforms and blankets for the war effort.
Pendleton label from the 1950s, with size in the lower right corner.

Pendleton label from the 1950s, with size in the lower right corner.

In the 1950’s and 60’s sizing information began appearing in the bottom right corner.
Pendleton label from 1970 to 1994, with Woolmark logo on the tag.

Pendleton label from 1970 to 1994, with Woolmark logo on the tag.

Shirts from the 1970’s to 1994 can be identified by the Woolmark Tag which remained unchanged until the early 1990’s.
Pendleton label from 1994 to 2009, with a new font and no border.

Label from 1994 to 2009, with a new font and no border.

From 1994 to 2009 the label changed dramatically, the yellow border was removed and the font was changed.
Pendleton label from 2009, with the name straightened out.

Pendleton label from 2009, with the name straightened out.

From 2009 onwards the font was once again changed the ‘Pendleton’ was no longer on an angle.
"A man never has enough Pendleton"

“A man never has enough Pendleton”

A few words of warning in closing:

  • Make sure you always ask for exact measurements of a shirt if ordering online. While a wool shirt may have a size marked, this is in no way a reliable indication of the actual sizing of a vintage shirt. At the very least, ensure the P2P (armPit to armPit) measurement fits you and that the arms are a suitable length.
  • Make sure to ask if the shirt is complete and undamaged. It’s not only guys that think wool shirts are cool, moths are also very much into them and they make unsightly holes.
  • A vintage shirt may have not have been stored in fresh pine-scented mountain air all it’s life, it may have lain in a pile of smelly old clothes in a basement. And smell lingers. You may be able to wash it out, but it may be wiser to check beforehand if there is a bad smell.
  • These shirts are made of wool. Wool can be itchy, even virgin wool. Keep in mind when thinking sizing that you may want to have something on underneath.

Thanks to George at Second State Vintage for images and help in assembling this guide!

63 Comments

  • Hank 05/05/2014 at 19:38

    YEAH! i have wanted this info for a long time, thank you

    Reply
  • pam 16/11/2016 at 22:15

    ciao,
    i have a coat with the blue pendelton label……but on my label it says
    “beaver state”……i didn’t see anything like that on your labels……can you please tell me about it?
    thanks

    Reply
    • nick 17/11/2016 at 07:58

      Hi Pam, doing a spot of Googling it looks like “Beaver State” was/is a special label for pieces inspired by Native American designs. Mainly mentioned in connection with blankets, robes and shawls though.

      Reply
  • Diondra Randall 19/08/2018 at 01:39

    Thank you so much for putting this together! I was looking up information on a label on a jacket I have. It knew it was pre-1964 because there’s no wool trademark, but most of the examples I could find and descriptions of the jackets were not quite what I had. It turns out mine is 1930s and 1940s. Gold crest-type buttons. Lined collar. Front pockets. Chest pocket. 3 button up. 2 buttons on each cuff. Red tartan. No sizing information, which is what was throwing me off because most sites had information for 50s/60s onward and those all had sizes. Such a great jacket. I’m not sure what to call it though. Some people are calling it a sport coat, a field jacket, hunting jacket, etc. I don’t know about that part, but figuring out the era helps! I love this jacket, I may keep it for myself. I love Pendleton!

    Reply
    • NiftyThrifty 02/07/2021 at 00:40

      I don’t know if you have already surfaced this information but most likely you have what they call a vintage smoking or lounge jacket.

      Reply
  • Diondra Randall 19/08/2018 at 01:41

    Though mine does not have a white tag with sizing. It has a few numbers printed on to the satin collar lining. I’m having trouble finding much information on those. If you know of a good resource, would you mind providing a link?

    Reply
  • Ryder Rodriguez 18/12/2018 at 22:57

    Awesome. So glad I found this. Do you reccomend anyone for placing a value on some vintage flannels? Any help would be greatly appreciated thank you.

    Reply
    • Christopher J Mulder 05/01/2019 at 20:55

      The guy who owns High Desert Authentiques in Grand Junction co. Is an expert on wool pendletons. He could defiantly give anyone on this thread any advice they need.

      Reply
  • Mike 20/02/2019 at 20:47

    Over the years, did Pendleton change the thickness of their shirts and clothing? I went into a shop that sold Pendleton shirts and I could have sworn they were thinner with less of a tail as well. Anybody have insight to these comments.

    Reply
    • Theresa Bradshaw 15/06/2019 at 05:05

      I have noticed that too. The modern shirts seem to be made from a thinner material.

      Reply
    • James 18/01/2020 at 18:25

      I have a few Pendletons. I’ve heard more recent ones are thinner, but based on my shirts which are all different styles, different styles also feel different from each other. I have one from the 1950s (maybe a Field Shirt) , one from the 1970-1994 period (not sure, like a High Grade Western without the peaked yokes), and one from the 1994-2009 period (Sir Pendleton). All are nice.

      Reply
    • Brian 03/10/2022 at 00:33

      Definitely! I used to wear these shirts to school in the ’60s, They were about twice, maybe 2 1/2 times as thick as the ones that I have seen for sale at Pendleton “outlet” stores. The old ones were really warm. We wore a cotton undershirt, usually a “turtle-neck” and a jacket on ice cold days (upper 20s F) hiking to school. These new ones (made abroad of course) would just not be suitable for suck a scenario.

      Reply
  • john garcia 25/04/2019 at 05:48

    are there “Board Shirts” made without the Board Shirt Tag? I have an exact same shirt no tag..thanks

    Reply
    • James Hart 18/01/2020 at 18:28

      Pretty sure the answer is “yes”. I think having a tag that says “Board Shirt” is a relatively new thing.

      Reply
  • Ted 26/08/2019 at 08:06

    Great information on tags, thank you!

    Reply
  • Becky 14/12/2019 at 05:48

    I have a pendleton coat that has a white label say pendleton on the first line high grade western wear on the 2nd line. Pendleton woolen millls 3rd line. 4th line Portland Oregon when was this made? Is it wool?

    Reply
  • Ben b 11/02/2020 at 01:21

    I have what looks to be a much older shirt that has a black Pendleton label with no size. I can’t find any information or find any examples of a black label. Any assistance would be great! Thanks in advance

    Reply
  • Stefan Lagrow 31/05/2020 at 17:00

    Interesting!
    What if the Pendleton collar label has a number in the lower right part of the label? I have a vintage one with the number 16 within a square.

    Reply
    • James Hart 17/01/2021 at 12:51

      That’s just a different sizing system I think is connected to the neck circumference in inches. A 16 probably is about a US L size.

      Reply
  • Hans de Werdt 12/07/2020 at 21:02

    I want to make a correction. The board shirt shown is not an exact replica of the shirts worn on ‘The Beach Boys’ album cover of ‘Surfer Girl’. The board shirts in those days didn’t have the horizontal stitching on top of the pocket flaps. Even in the 70’s that stitching wasn’t there. I don’t know when that horizontal stitching on top of the flaps was added to the board shirts, but probably somewhere in the 80’s or later.

    Reply
  • Erica DeRosa 10/12/2020 at 11:23

    Thanks for the education. It helps SO much. I’m gifting one to someone. Can you go a step further with your descriptions of each shirt?
    I’d like to know what each shirt can n may be used for. For example, someone who lives in the cold vs someone who lives near the sea, etc.

    Reply
    • James Hart 17/01/2021 at 12:52

      Try looking on their website. Many of the same styles from decades ago are still made now.

      Reply
  • Jay 12/12/2020 at 05:00

    I recently saw a Pendleton Board shirt that had the 1930 – 1940 tag, but the pockets were at a 45 degree angle. Does anyone know if they used some of the old 40’s tags on the shirts in the early 50’s?

    Reply
  • Dennis HOWRY 06/01/2021 at 02:25

    I have an old Pendleton grey wool Navy P-coat in excellent condition. It was my grandfather’s who passed in 1988. The label matches the type shown from the 30’s and 40’s. I can’t find any size markings. It seems to be a large, maybe 40 or 42 suit size. Any way to find out more about it?

    Reply
  • Geanette 10/01/2021 at 00:24

    This has been super helpful in identifying and pricing the Pendleton men’s shirts I have in vintage clothing store, Eclectricities. I didn’t realize there were names for different styles but it makes sense.

    Reply
  • christopher s silva 16/01/2021 at 21:55

    Great info. What year did Pendleton start using Thinsulate on jackets. We bought one on Etsy, it was described as “60s vintage era” Turns out with a simple Google search Thinsulate was invented and put into production in 1979. So tech my jacket isnt 1960s? as seller claimed.

    Reply
  • null 25/06/2021 at 19:49

    Hi there

    I have a shirt here that has no size. States Made in the USA but states “Hand Tailored” rather than “warranted to be”

    Any ideas of the era? The style is High Grade Western.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Peter D Eikenberry 15/07/2021 at 01:52

    I have a Field Shirt made probably in the late 60’s. It has a size label, but instead of the usual L, M, S, it is an actual size, 15 1/2. That’s a US size, that fits me perfectly. Is this unusual (the size) or was it common to put an actual size on the label?

    Reply
    • James Hart 16/07/2021 at 06:41

      I’ve seen a lot of both.

      Reply
      • Peter D Eikenberry 16/07/2021 at 22:19

        Thanks .

        Reply
  • George 29/08/2021 at 02:31

    Hello, thanks for the great article. I have two bord shirts (70-94 and 50-60 versions) to my taste the arms are on the shorter side (i role them so it does not really matter) but i am curious if someone knows if there is any design principle behind it:)… especially since you called out to pay attention to the arm lenght;)

    Reply
  • Paul 16/10/2021 at 23:05

    Very helpful, I can now date my newly acquired Sir Pendleton label shirt as Fireside design from between 1994 and 2009. The beauty is that it can pass as a sportshirt from the mid-’30’s to to late-’80’s, which is a bonus for me.

    Reply
  • Dahlila Found 16/11/2021 at 02:53

    Thank you! So nice to find a real blog for information. I inherited a 1950s Pendleton, but I’d never heard the term “board shirt” before. Now I know! xo

    Reply
  • Myrna Green 01/12/2021 at 15:46

    I have a pendleton shirt that from the tag looks like it is 50-60s Era. It has two snap pockets that go to the back of shirt and the whole back is like a large pocket. What is the double back/pocket area for?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • James Hart 01/12/2021 at 16:15

      Sounds more like a Mackinaw Cruiser jacket (check out Filson). I’ve heard in the jackets it could be used for putting small game while hunting, but I can’t imagine putting a bloody animal in my jacket. I’d use it for maps and such.

      Reply
      • Myrna Green 01/12/2021 at 19:01

        Thank you. Someone told me about the pocket being for birds but I was not too sure about that answer.

        Reply
      • Myrna Green 01/12/2021 at 19:50

        So I found a mackinaw shirt/coat on ebay that looks similar. Mine is Pendleton but I also saw the Filson ones.

        Reply
  • K jones 04/12/2021 at 02:58

    Thanks for the info, I wish ebay sellers would read it. I have seen every kind of shirt called a board shirt lol!
    I purchased a board shirt with a 30’s to 40’s label, do you know when they started making the board shirt? I didnt know they made them that soon.

    Reply
  • LANIER 09/03/2022 at 19:02

    For the longest time I never knew the history of Pendleton. It was ruined back in high school. Most who wore it were the so-called cholos in California. So I never sported one. That’s not the case in many other places.
    Later in life after retiring I stumbled on the history of Pendleton. I was watching a YouTube video by Wranglerstar, called, Them’s fighten’ words. I must say it was impressive. I loved the board shirt he was sporting in red, grey and black.
    I bought about three online. But it didn’t fulfill me cause I kept searching for the featured shirt in the video.
    I convinced myself that it’s discontinued and no one will give it up. But I gave it another go on ebay. To my to my surprise it was listed by the same vendor Joel G, who bought from before. I certainly did tell him thank you for listing it.
    So if your in search for an awesome Pendleton. They’re out there. I no longer frown on pricing. It may hurt once but you’ll appreciate a well made Pendleton back by tradition, history and craftsmanship.
    Best of success in this Pendleton endeavor.

    Lanier A

    Reply
  • Kat Price 24/06/2022 at 16:07

    FYI – I believe the style name “TRIAL” you used for the shirt style listed above should be “TRAIL”. (Unless it’s normally worn to COURT proceedings… LOL).

    Lots of great info on your posting… Thanks!

    Reply
  • Luis 23/09/2022 at 21:14

    hello everyone, maybe someone can help me know what the nomenclatures that appear below the Pendleton label from the 70s-90s mean, they are: A-036-332-LS., thanks and regards!

    Reply
  • brian 03/10/2022 at 00:23

    Modern Pendleton shirts are made in Viet Nam (says Costco). As of 2017 Pendleton buys 4 million pounds of wool annually but only 40% (they claim) is from the U.S., mostly from the N.W.

    Reply
  • Rich 16/10/2022 at 22:30

    I have 3 Pendelton shirts with 1950’s consistent tags. However they look like a cross between the 1940’s and 1950’s tags you displayed above. They look just like the 1950’s tag but with no “Made in USA” on them. One shirt has a small M stamped on the shirt just above the tag I assume for Medium since all three shirts are medium. Can anyone give me more details on these tags. They belong to my wife’s father who died in 1961.

    Reply
  • Charleen Williams 20/10/2022 at 21:25

    I have a ladies Pendleton jacket that I bought in 1965. It is plaid and not one single math hole in it. I brought it out today and put it on and wore it and it looks just like it was brand new. Is there something special about the Pendleton wool that keeps it moth proof?

    Reply
  • Peter Eikenberry 20/10/2022 at 21:38

    No. I have been wearing Pendleton since my teens ( the 60s) It all depends on how you store them. I have had a few get moth eaten. But if you keep them in a clothing bag or in a sealed box , or drawer that doesn’t allow moths to get in, they won’t be. Also cedar repels insects. You can get small cedar pieces in most big box stores. That why our grandparents all had cedar chests for storing woolens.

    Reply
  • David 16/11/2022 at 14:41

    I have picked up some pendleton pants at a thirift store. By far my warmest pants haha, but I can’t find any information about the label or the time period.
    It has a White label with dark blue (slightly dottet) writing saying:

    WARRENTED TO BE A
    PENDLETON
    100% VIRGIN WOOL
    PORTLAND,OREGON

    Next to it is a tiny size tag (also blue on white)
    Maybe anyone knows something about it maybe not.
    Doesn’t hurt to post it 🙂

    Reply
  • Peter 16/11/2022 at 21:08

    I have a pair of Pendleton Pants. The label is blue from the 90’s and it does not have a size on it. There is a separate size label. However, I have seen the white labels you may be looking at on Men’s bathrobes and Women’s clothing. If it was actually made in Pendleton it may be from before the 90’s. They still make the fabric there but production of clothing is farmed out elsewhere.

    Reply
  • Peter 13/12/2022 at 01:13

    BTW. on the part of this site depicting the different types of shirts, It says Trial shirts. It should be Trail shirts. I have some Trail Shirts and all the new ones have a label in them that says Trail. Never noticed it before despite visiting your site many times. Probably the spell checker’s fault.

    Reply
    • nick 13/12/2022 at 09:36

      Thank you, Peter, I’ve corrected this now!

      Reply
  • Sam 06/01/2023 at 02:46

    I thought I just found an old vintage Pendleton wool coat at goodwill. I picked it up bc I thought it was a steal and my grandfather has the exact same coat. He bought it in store in the 80s or 90s.

    I brought it to compare to his… it has the same tag (style) but this tag feels brand new… no wear. The inside of his also has a very soft grey/silver satin lining while the one I picked up is black and it’s rather stiff.

    Wondering if I got duped but everything else (buttons, wool, weight and leather strap check out) thinking maybe somebody paid to have it re-lined?

    I see a few that have sold on poshmark and other resale sites but it kinda just seems off.

    Reply
  • Mike 10/03/2023 at 07:30

    I bought a Pendleton in 1978 before hiking the Grand Canyon. It still has a barcode sticker over the typical label. Does anyone know the code to their barcodes?

    Reply
  • Jeremy Epstein 10/03/2023 at 21:17

    Thanks for the info. There is another Pendleton shirt style that may be of interest: “Sir Pendleton.” These have two blue labels, a narrower one inside the collar saying “Sir Pendleton” and one below that which is the usual Pendleton label. They are dress shirts made of a fine worsted wool and the ones I have are either a tartan pattern, or a few have more of a “ghost plaid” pattern. They are EXTREMELY nice and make a very good warm winter layer without being as bulky or super-warm as the heavier shirts. As you suggested, I always wear them with a T shirt underneath although they are not terribly itchy.

    These are some of the nicest shirts I own and they show up on eBay all the time.

    Reply
  • Peter Reinhardt 02/04/2023 at 16:31

    I have a 1970 picked up in San Jose when it got just a bit too chilly on my motorcycle. Beautiful blue plaid. Is it possible to get reconditioned and fix a minor moth hole on the side below the bottom button.

    Reply
  • Carlos 24/08/2023 at 05:00

    I recently bought a pendleton flannel, the tag suggests its from the sixties. There’s a couple concerns the first one is the buttons are on the left side of the shirt, most of the pendleton flannels I seen online the buttons are on the right side. Second is there’s no soft lining in the neck area, again all the ones I seen do have the soft lining. I’m just wondering the shirt is a knock off

    Reply
    • nick 24/08/2023 at 08:38

      Buttons on the left side would indicate it’s a womens model.

      Reply
  • Carlos 24/08/2023 at 18:42

    That’s what I was thinking. Thanks for the reply

    Reply
  • Flen Stengal 17/09/2023 at 19:12

    Thanks George, you are of course, a peach.
    I’ve been a fan of Pendleton since the early 70’s, and they aren’t making my style anymore. Now I at least know what they were called….

    Reply
  • Jane P 27/10/2023 at 02:49

    This information is wonderful! Wondering if someone could add the info on the Pendleton womens’ clothing line. Of course we all know about the skirts. I bought a belted jacket in a thrift shop a few years ago for pennies, and sold it for a good price. Since then I’m on the lookout! Of course one can tell by which way the shirt buttons, but there were several different styles that were unique to women. I’d love to learn more about them!

    Reply
  • fred 28/10/2023 at 01:47

    I have a question. I’ve owned a couple Pendeltons back in the 70’s. I seem to remember a Lord Pendelton, that was much finer in texture, and less itchy.
    Anyone remember it?

    Reply
  • Peter D Eikenberry 21/12/2023 at 01:11

    I just bought a very nice Pendleton shirt at my local Goodwill. It appears to be a fireside shirt with the type of label used between 1994 and 2009. The only difference is the MADE IN USA , DRY CLEAN Label. Below the Dry Clean label it has a number RN29685. The same number is on the label showing fabric content. Is this just a lot number? I can send a photo if you like.

    Reply
  • rtsixsixpaul 26/12/2023 at 06:04

    I have a + size figure(3x or 3xl), 6′-0″ and 265 lbs. Did they make large sizes back in the day? or did the fatties just hold on to them? I can find big sizes now, but the shirts of the 60s were thicker and could be used in SoCal instead of a jacket. Can a heavier flat tailed shirt be found new?

    Reply
  • Borg 06/01/2024 at 02:25

    Thanks for such a detailed, fabulous article. I grew up in California during ‘50’s-70’s near the ocean. I loved my Pendleton Surfers, great warmth in ocean breezes and wore like iron. Sadly my wife doesn’t like wool, I tearfully gave them away.

    Reply

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