Irish-American Fashion: Lucille Ball on St. Patrick’s

Lucille Ball!

Lucille Ball!

I have a few things to say about this image of Lucille Ball on St. Patrick’s Day. Firstly, adorable. Secondly, there is nothing especially Irish about this costume, which seems more inspired by Czech or German folk costumes than anything anyone in Ireland ever wore. Thirdly, I don’t care.

Ball was part-Irish, but America’s most famous redhead was a lot of other things as well, including Scottish, French, and English. If Ms. Ball wanted to dress in a costume on St. Patrick’s that wasn’t 100 percent Irish, well, that was her her prerogative, and how better to represent the diversity of the Irish-American experience than by taking something not-Irish and sticking a shamrock on it!

This is a pretty simple outfit to duplicate, if you want to. Let’s start from the top town.

1. ROBIN HOOT CAP, MOSS FETE, $95

I'll tell you a tale of Alan-a-Dale.

I’ll tell you a tale of Alan-a-Dale.

It may not be possible to find precisely the cap that Ball wore in the image, which was likely custom-made for the photo shoot, but a quick search on the web for “Elf cap” and “Robin Hood cap” brings dozens of possible substitutions. As long as it is green and elfen, it will do the trick.

2. GERMAN BLOUSE, ERNST LICHT, $34.

Puffy sleeves are a must.

Puffy sleeves are a must.

The shirt is a traditional German blouse with puffy sleeves; a nice selection can be found at Ernst Licht, but you’re going to want two accessories:

3. GREEN SLEEVE GARTERS, $5.95.

Top of the arm to ya!

Top of the arm to ya!

This will keep your sleeves puffy and give the costume a dash of green, and you’re going to want:

4. VINTAGE IRISH LACE COLLAR, VARIOUS PRICES

Irish lace.

Irish lace.

You’ll find this for sale on various vintage site, like eBay and Etsy.

5. TWILL BODICE, $66

Huzzah!

Huzzah!

Admittedly, this takes a costume that is already a bit Peter Pan and makes it Medieval, but if that’s what Lucille Ball likes, it’s what she gets.

6. WHITE FLARE SKIRT, LORD AND TAYLOR, $49.99

I don't like to talk about my flare.

I don’t like to talk about my flare.

You’re going to want a nice flared skirt, but it’s not going to be exactly right with the following:

7. SHAMROCK APPLIQUES, PIN MART, $.99

Good for both skirts and luck.

Good for both skirts and luck.

And there’s just one thing remaining:

8. HALF-SIZE APRON, BOOJIBOO, $38.75

With suspenders!

With suspenders!

Lucille Ball went for a simple, bold pattern, but I’m going to suggest that this is another place for a splash of green. I especially like the fact that this comes with suspenders, because heaven knows you don’t want your tiny apron to slip.

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Max Sparber

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