Irish-American Fashion: Molly Maguires

Still looking good after a day in the mines.

Still looking good after a day in the mines.

As you know doubt already know, the Molly Maguires were a clandestine labor movement in the 19th Century. And, if you know that, you know the photo above is not of real Molly Maguires, but of Richard Harris and Sean Connery from the 1970 film about the Molly Maguires. We’re not writing for historical reenactors here, but for fashionistas, and the film’s costumes were by the superlative Dorothy Jeakins. She specialized in historical costume, or at least Hollywood versions of historical costumes, and her work was always marked by feeling both historic and theatrical. You can see more of her work in “The Music Man,” “The Ten Commandments,” and “Young Frankenstein.”

So it is Jeakins’ version of the Molly Maguires we will be recreating here, and let’s start, as we always do, with the hat.

1. Herringbone Fiddler Cap, Jaxon Hats, £17.95

Mine lamp sold separately.

Mine lamp sold separately.

We’ll begin with the cap, and it’s a favorite of this site, the fiddler cap. Jeakons decided to go with a single color for the cap, and we’ll follow suit with this stylish herringbone number.

2. Denim Shirt In Long Sleeve With Collarless Neck Detail, ASOS, $28

Beard optional but recommended.

Beard optional but recommended.

Jeakins’ miners favored collarless work shirts, and so we’re going to recommend the classic fabric of the work shirt, denim.

3. Grey herringbone-wool work jacket, S.E.H. Kelly, £265

It works hard for the money.

It works hard for the money.

Jeakins’ had her Molly Maguires in a variety of work jackets, but they tended to be great or black, buttoned up, and had collars that the men wore up against the cold. This herringbone model fits the bill nicely.

4. Work Pants – Red, L.C. King, $35

One does want a hint of color.

One does want a hint of color.

Although our photo does not show the sort of pants our Molly Maguires wear, in the film they tend to be boxy black work pants. Sean Connery is, on occasion, shown wearing reddish brown work pants, and that’s our cue. We’re going to choose red pants, because even when one is laboring, one does not wish to be drab, does one?

5. Mountain Belt, Craft and Lore, $120

It's called the Mountain Belt, and that should be enough to make you want it.

It’s called the Mountain Belt, and that should be enough to make you want it.

The Mollies are also shown wearing thick leather belts with big buckles, and when a costume gives you an excuse to buy a mountain belt, you take that excuse.

6. Men’s American Heritage Workboot, Thorogood Boots, $155.

These will keep your feet dry.

These will keep your feet dry.

The Mollies are also typically shown wearing work boots, which always looks nice. This pair will match both your cap and your belt.

7. Cotton Cashmere Scarf, Tommy Hilfiger, $16.95

Top it with a scarf.

Top it with a scarf.

Finally, Jeakins’ Mollies always seem to be wearing scarfs or neckerchiefs. It’s a chance to add a dash of foppishness to the look, so go to town. Greys and browns will look nice, but this is also your chance to sneak some green into the outfit.

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Max Sparber

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