Irish-American fashion: Fisherman Fabulous


If there’s one look that seems to crop up often enough among our Irish forebears, it is that of the fisherman. And no wonder — Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard alone stretches 1600 miles, giving rise to all sorts of oceangoing industries, including commercial whaling and shipbuilding.

Mostly, I’m just fond of the hats. A surprising number of Irish have taken to the Greek fisherman’s cap, including John Lennon, son of a sailor and an Irish woman, who eventually owned an island in Ireland, and wore the cap on his first American tour. Me, my taste is for the so-called fiddler cap, which is similar, but a little more rakish, and lacks the Greek fisherman’s cap’s embroidered leaf cluster. It’s called a fiddler’s cap because it is the sort of cap favored by Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” — itself a modified Polish Maciejowka cap. But there are all sorts just now, including a number that look especially Irish. My personal favorite is a woolen version in a Tartan pattern offered by VitaStudio for $66.

Apparently it’s made with kangaroo leather.

Our model at the top of the page has tied a scarf around his neck, and we shall do the same. As we’re going for a seafaring look, I have selected a nautically themed scarf from Gypseatree, unfortunately dubbed a “man cowl” by them, for $41.

Man Cowl? Really?

Our cheerful sailor also has a simple black coat on. You’re going to need something warm for those cold nights at sea, so I’m going to recommend replacing this with a duffel coat. Target makes a classic version, which they sell for $63.99.

The coat was originally popular with the British navy.

We also need a shirt, and our sailor seems to have a dark-colored sweater on. This is a perfect opportunity to wear a blue knit sweater, and LL Bean offers one they specifically identify as an Irish fisherman’s sweater for $159.

This will keep the chill off youse.
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Max Sparber

Max Sparber is a playwright, journalist, and history detective in Omaha, Nebraska.