Betsey Johnson ~ Alley Cat ~ Vintage 1971

Perusing through my old August 1971 issue of Seventeen magazine, I found a Betsey Johnson goldmine! Betsey started out as a “funky kid” designer at Paraphernalia , then joined Alley Cat in 1970. She turned out one smash-hit collection after another for Alley Cat, as well as being part owner of the New York boutique, Betsey, Bunky & Nini. In any event, Betsey’s designs were whimsical, fun, bright, and meant for personal expression. Needless to say, Betsey Johnson was one of my favorite designers of the 1970s. My mom sewed me many an outfit from the Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat “Young Designer” sewing patterns from Butterick. I always loved wearing Betsey’s designs – I felt kicky and happy!

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat, Vintage 1971Brightly colored flannel from Turkey made into a squarish super warm wrap jacket and big flare skirt. Pakistani boots. So FAB! I always loved Betsey’s little drawings and sayings that decorated her ads.

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat, Vintage 1971Big red corduroy Be Bop pants and even little shoulder pads in the shirt, saddle shoes. Fake fur Super Chubby and hat, with patterned stockings and embroidered shoes.

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat, vintage 1971Wool patterned sweaters and hats in bird, fish, and floral designs. These are super cool!

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat, Vintage 1971Wool patterned skirt and pants, Colored tights, and strappy shoes.

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat, vintage 1971Rosebud patterned corduroy super puffy “Wizard of Oz” coat, little jacket and straight skirt. Diamond underwear underneath it all.

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat, vintage 1971Baby flannel nightgown dress and jacket, worn with good old cowboy boots. And Betsey with her trademark braids wrapped around her head!

Betsey Johnson - Alley Cat - Wool ad, vintage 1971A very cute ad for Alley Cat and Wool by Betsey Johnson. I loved how she would draw it so you could use them as paper dolls.

Betsey Johnson -Alley Cat flock of birds dress, vintage 1971Über cool Betsey Johnson design for Alley Cat: a jacquard knit dress with a flock of bright birds. It sold for $48 in 1971.

As Betsey says, “Wishing you all happy days and nights.” πŸ˜€ ~Marilyn

12 Responses to “Betsey Johnson ~ Alley Cat ~ Vintage 1971”

  1. Diane Laag

    Dear Marilyn, I just loved your Betsey Johnson/ Alley Cat article…. I can relate to this site because this is what I loved in 1972/73. I remember her ads quite well. In fact we would embroider some of her little drawings onto our jeans or cut off worn out shorts that we would wear with our Alley Cat tops and our Goody Two Shoes platform shoes…..
    What a fun fashion era. We didn’t care if the kids made fun of us … and they did. I actually still have the fish skirt and top along with the ad from Seventeen 1972. It’s so so small!!!!
    Thank you for all your little stories. I really love them a lot!!!!!
    Diane Laag

  2. finnfemme

    Thanks Diane!
    Wasn’t Betsey a kick? Well, she still is but she had more of an effect when she was brand-new on the scene in the 70s! That is so cool that you have the fish skirt and top – those are actually worth a chunk of change these days, as is most of her Alley Cat stuff. I hear ya on clothes being so small. I think I wore what would be a modern size 0 back then! Everyone was so skinny!

  3. Diane Laag

    Dear Marliyn, Thanks once again for responding. I just love your sites and all the cool info that you post. It takes me back to such a fun time in our lives. You mentioned your Reunion. Mine is 9/28/…..our 40th…. Yikes!
    But anyway, I am just so glad I found your site. I do look forward to your pics and info. Keep up the great work!!!!!! Thanks… Diane

  4. finnfemme

    We must be the same age, Diane, as it was my 40th high school reunion as well! I am still processing the event…and debating whether or not I want to blog about it, or just let sleeping dogs lie – LOL.

  5. Diane Laag

    Dear Marilyn,
    About your reunion….. I say blog away! You never know when you may get the chance again to get your former classmates together.
    We had a lot of fun but sadly the night flew on by too darn fast.
    In any case, I just re read over your Betsey Johnson article and it just makes me feel so good..
    My mom made me a baby corduroy jacket from a B J pattern. I wore it every day with platforms and vintage jeans (10 cents)….. That’s what they cost…. I think they were from the 50’s…. baggy, deep pockets with fabric sewn on the inside of the jean bottoms. Do you remember the Willy Woo clear, colored belts?
    They were so cool. Came in lavender, red, green, orange….. They were transparent but made of a really nice plastic…. I shopped in Philly. Where are you located?
    I almost feel like I know you but I don’t. It is fun gabbing away about our fun filled fashion memories though.
    Take care.

  6. finnfemme

    Hi Diane,
    I am in the Seattle area. I don’t remember the Willy Woo belts, at least I didn’t wear them. I probably had the same Betsey Johnson jacket that my mom made me too (Butterick pattern)! I had the wide cuffed pants that went with it, so it was a suit. I remember it was yellow, and I loved it SO much. πŸ™‚

  7. judy lyoins

    When I first moved to NY in 1971, I lived on 53rd street, same block as Betsey, Binky and Nini’s shop. I coveted one of the sweater dresses and finally was able to buy it on sale. Still have it this many years later, my daughter (now 33) was able to wear it when younger and we’re now passing it on to a young 13 year old friend who is very stylish with her own fashion flair.

  8. finnfemme

    Hi Judy!
    WOW. You were really at ground zero of the Betsey Johnson revolution (so jealous)! I coveted her sweater dresses too, but they were definitely out of my babysitter-wage price league – haha. So glad that you kept the dress and other generations are able to enjoy it! Betsey’s styles stand the test of time for us fun and funky fashionistas. β™₯

  9. alden

    Hello! It’s my first time at this blog, and I discovered it after using some Betsey Johnson pictures (particularly the puffy coat dress). I was wondering if you knew any of the numbers for the patterns, since I’m very interested in maybe making some of these, but it’s very difficult to find the names of the particular patterns. Thank you, and I love this collection of outfits!

  10. Kate Martin

    I graduated high school in 1976. I was absolutely crazy about Betsey Johnson Alley Cat. I was especially covetous of her knit sweaters. The fish designs are my favorite. I have a very rare pair of larger sized knit pants. I was checking out the 1970’s Alley Cat sold prices, and many of them sold for over $1,000. I heard that Betsey Johnson has been buying some of her old Alley Cat designs as she never kept the clothing from the 70’s.
    BETSEY JOHNSON SEWING PATTERN INFO. Betsey designed for Butterick patterns. They are available on Etsy and EBay. MOST are very small. There is a website that lists every single Butterick sewing pattern Betsey designed as well as some other 1970’s designers. Oh how I wish Betsey would manufacture the knit designs right now. The type of knitting she used is called Intarsia. As far as the clothing goes, stay vigilant, and search constantly. The better designs sell almost as soon as they are listed. Good Luck

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>