Saturday, December 7, 2013


Pyrotechnics come to mind when I try to describe the unusual decoration on this sweater by Carol Horn Workshop which I wore to work Thursday to ward off the chill during my lengthy commute from my home in northwest Baltimore County, Maryland, to Washington, D.C.  If truth be told, there wasn’t much of a chill in the air on Thursday; a warm front had pushed through the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bringing with it unseasonably warm temperatures.  In fact, the temperature was 71 degrees in the early evening when I made the trip home from D.C. to my little farmhouse in the ‘burbs, a record high for this time of year.

Meanwhile, a severe Canadian cold front, bringing with it sleet, snow and freezing rain, is pushing through the Midwest, from the northern plains clear down to the gulf of Mexico, and will arrive here on the east coast Sunday morning. So Thursday, as Mother Nature mustered barely cool enough weather in Baltimore to warrant a sweater of any kind, colleagues at my employer’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas, were suffering in 30 degree weather.  Talk about a reversal of fortunes!  Usually I am the one enjoying cooler temps whilst the Dallasites swelter. It was in deference to their suffering that I donned the knit wool.

Besides, I was in the mood for colorful fireworks when I pulled on this sweater, which was a recent gift from my dear friend and high school classmate, Becky Elisher.  She’d gotten wind of the boxes of clothes sent to me by my best friend, Kari’s, mother, Joyce, in Spokane, Washington, and thought I might enjoy this unusual pattern of beads and embroidery.  Bring it on!  I’ll wear anyone’s hand-me-downs as long as they’re attractive, in good shape and have a story to tell.

Carol Horn developed an
extensive line of easy
sewing patterns for Vogue
This piece definitely made the grade.  Not quite Christmasy, the festive sweater manages to evoke “celebration” without proclaiming any particular holiday. Turns out that Carol Horn is a vintage clothier.  Born in 1936, she began designing clothing for the Bryant 9 label of junior sportswear in the late 1960s.  A protégé of renowned sportswear designer Malcolm Starr, in 1983 Starr invited Horn to design her own collection, which became the impetus for Carol Horn Sportswear, Carol Horn Knits and Carol Horn Workshop.  The frizzy-haired redhead gravitated toward enduring ethnic styles with a decidedly Bohemian flair, such as jodphurs, caftans and Sherpa jackets.  The sweeping styles she made famous were constructed of muslin, gauze and natural wools. They were an instant hit, a striking juxtaposition to the fussy prints and highly darted fashions coming out of Paris.

Look how well my vintage
beaded earrings match the light blue
beads in the sweater!
And so this goofy-patterned sweater is now a welcome part of my vintage collection.  Evoking the very essence of the word “mod”, I paired the roomy turtleneck with beaded black leggings by HUE from Macy’s, vintage boots by Pleaser and some ice-blue beaded earrings from my grandmother that I converted to pierced from clip-on many years ago.

In today’s world of throwaway fashion, it’s nice to give something old a new life. I am proud to wear Becky’s cast-off and delighted that she thought to pass it along to me.

“Glamour isn’t synonymous with couture.  It’s an attitude.” ~ Carol Horn

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