Over time men’s fashion has evolved in style and expanded in choice, but its roots reach back generations. The clothes we wear today are adaptions of styles worn hundreds of years ago. Be that in the style of cut, the chosen fabric or yarn, or the styling of different looks. Here we look at traditional Irish men’s fashion styles and at examples of how it impacts today’s fashion.
History of Irish Men’s Fashion Styles
It is impossible to talk about men’s traditional fashion in Ireland without talking about weather or politics. Early Irish men’s fashions were borne of practicality to repel the rain and adapt to changing seasons. People used what they could get their hands on, which varied depending on income. For those at the lower end of the income scale, there was wool and coarse cloth. They were often fashioned into kilts and Aran sweaters. For wealthier individuals, tailoring was sharper and cloth more refined.
Having originated in Scotland, it is believed that kilts were worn in Ireland in solidarity with Ireland’s Celtic brethren. Thick woolen capes played a similar role in traditional Irish men’s fashion. They were worn long and heavy to allow rebels to hide out in the mountains no matter the weather.
Rural communities worked together to gather the sheep’s wool and moss used to spin and dye wool. Hamlets and villages often had one or two households that spun the cloth for all their neighbors. The fabric and yarn colors came from the plants and berries of the Irish countryside. Green moss and ferns and red and purple berries giving sweaters and tweeds the distinctive colors we still see today.
Having originated on a cluster of small islands off the west coast of Ireland, Aran has become an international phenomenon. Aran sweaters were created by the families who lived there in response to a practical need. The islanders relied heavily on the food that fishermen gathered, and the fishermen needed protecting. Out on the Atlantic waters, Aran proved to be water repellent, odor-resistant, and warm. Better still, the wool needed to make them could be sourced and spun locally.
Each clan of the three islands developed a distinctive pattern that could be recognized as their own. Cable stitches are akin to fishermen’s ropes, honeycomb to signify luck, ladders, and trees to represent life. There are today more than 500 registered clan patterns in Ireland.
It’s no surprise that Aran sweaters have lasted the test of time. They are versatile in both style and practicality, lending themselves to casual and formal men’s fashion in equal measure. The natural qualities of the wool used to knit the sweaters are heat-regulating and easy to care for. The stitches and patterns lend themselves to endless ideas for stylish men’s looks.
A Guide To Men’s Irish Fashion Styles
Whether you describe your style as laid-back casual or sharp and snappy, we have something for you. Below we look at how men’s traditional fashion in Ireland has influenced modern fashion and recommend our favorite timeless looks.
Layering Never Goes Out of Fashion
If there is one fashion trend that will never go out of fashion, it’s layering. The beauty of layering is that it looks good but is also practical. Layering means always being ready for any weather – allowing you to layer up or down with the day’s changing temperature.
A timeless layered look is centered around the shirt. Choose a short-sleeved polo shirt or classic cotton button-down for a look that’s always on trend. In colder months, couple the shirt with a plain white t-shirt, but remember to pay attention to the shirt buttons. With or without a t-shirt beneath, only one top button should be left open. When layering with a t-shirt in warmer seasons, all buttons can be left open, and sleeves rolled up above the wrists.
The Any Weather Layer
Did you know that Aran sweaters are great for summer fashion as well as winter warmth? Despite the obvious coziness of a classic Aran knit, the heat-regulating aspect of natural wool makes them cooling too.
For cold climates, opt for Aran sweaters with a little extra bulk. The Shawl Neck Toggle Sweater and Fisherman’s Half Zip Sweater are good examples of winter options. If you live in an area renowned for windy days, look no further than the Windproof Aran Style Half-Zip Jacket.
For warmer days, a classic style like the Men’s Hand-knit Chevron Stitch Sweater is a must-have. Aran cardigans are another option for an all-weather layering. The button-up Merino Wool Aran Men’s V-Neck Cardigan works well with jeans, shorts, or smart slacks. Whilst the Men’s Hooded Aran Cardigan offers a more youthful play on the classic Irish sweater. This zip-up hooded cardigan is available in three colors and features two practical side pockets.
All Important Men’s Accessories
Good accessories add a finishing touch to an outfit and are also versatile enough for multiple outfit styles.
When it comes to men’s accessorize, you can’t go wrong with a statement scarf like the Wool Cashmere Shell Stitch Wide Scarf. The unique staggered shell pattern and wide range of color choices make it ideal for adding interest to any outfit.
A firm favorite in men’s fashion is the hat. Every man has his preferred style from flat caps to wide-brimmed and woolen. Hats have been featured in Irish men’s fashion for hundreds of years. Many styles have lasted the test of time and are as popular today – if not more popular – than they ever were.
As colder weather sets in, you can’t go wrong with a Men’s Ribbed Super Soft Merino Wool Hat. Crafted from 100% Merion Wool, these woolen hats are soft and long-lasting. Once popular for Irish fishermen for fending off the Atlantic sea breeze, they are now firmly an any-man favorite.
Flat caps, like the Trinity Tweed Flat Cap, have experienced a resurgence in recent years. The timeless style of that hat adapts nicely to any men’s fashion look, and suits all face shapes. Boosted in popularity again by TV and film, flat caps are highly sought after by men worldwide. Available in many color choices, including Turquoise Plaid and grey herringbone, green and brown check, and charcoal with blue.