Tag Archives: nautical

Go Fish! (For an Irish Sweater)

The Aran jumper, better known as an Irish fisherman sweater, is a bulky, cable-patterned sweater popular in Ireland.  Its name derives from the Aran Islands off the west coast of the Emerald Isle.  The jumpers were originally stitched with unscoured and undyed cream-colored báinín, yarn made from sheep’s wool that contained natural oils, which made the material water-resistant – a perfect fabric for men primarily working on the sea!  The wives of fishermen would knit these beautiful sweaters for their husbands.  Each stitch has a meaning.  The cable stitch depicts a fisherman’s ropes to wish for safety; the honeycomb pattern symbolizes hard-working bees; the basket stitch represents a fisherman’s basket with the hope of a plentiful catch; the zig-zag stitch depicts the twisting cliffs on the islands; the tree of life pattern shows the importance and unity of family; and the diamond shape reflects the small fields of the Aran islands, which are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilize barren land and produce a good harvest – therefore, the diamond represents good fortune and success.  Origins of the sweater are often debated.  Some historians claim that Aran jumpers have been knitted for hundreds of years, sometimes credited to knitting historian Heinz Edgar Kiewe, who claims he discovered an image in the Book of Kells, in which Daniel was wearing Aran knitted clothing!  Supposedly, there aren’t any other records of the fisherman sweaters until the early 20th century.  The likely explanation is that the women of Aran adapted the traditional Gansey sweater by changing the thickness of the wool and streamlining the construction.  There is a common belief that each family had a different pattern, in case one of their sons, husbands, fathers or brothers went overboard, they’d be able to identify bodies washed ashore, based on the clan’s sweater pattern.  This stems from the 1904 play Riders to the Sea, by J.M. Synge, in which a dead fisherman is identified by his clothing’s stitching, although there is no reference to Aran knitting in the play.  Jumper patterns do have regional associations though, so fishermen and sailors lost at sea could have been identified by sweaters associated with their county, town or church’s pattern.  Men also had their initials sewed into their garments, which also helped determine who they were, if killed.  (Fun Fact: The Ó’Máille family of Galway created traditional costumes for the 1952 film The Quiet Man!  You can still purchase their knits today!)  Irish-American leading men look pretty good in these sweaters, too!  The “King of Cool” Steve McQueen (pictured, top left) looks rugged on the set of The Thomas Crown Affair, and Ryan ONeal (pictured, below) looks handsome filming one of the final scenes of Love Story.  We love ’em, because they remind us of sweaters passed down and worn in our own Irish family!  It’s nice to keep cozy while paying tribute to the Gaels who lived and died before us!

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Wednesday’s Shoe

In keeping with the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor, this “Wednesday’s Shoe” is a nautical-themed peep-toe pump we certainly could picture Kate Beckinsale wearing as Navy nurse Evelyn Johnson.  We found them on LingerieGifts.com.  The polka-dot lined sailor heels have an anchor on the back and retail at $58.99.  Although visiting the actual memorial would probably be a far more noble use of the money…  Always remember “A date that will live in infamy.”  RIP USS Arizona.


Wednesday’s Shoe

Well, these would have made the perfect pumps for last weekend, but they’ll look cute for any weekend this summer!  These red, white and blue peep-toe pumps are patriotic and nautical – perfect for this season!  They can be purchased on one of our favorite sites, Baby Girl Boutique.  They have a 4.5 inch heel and cost $59.00.


Wednesday’s Shoe

What’s a good shoe to start off the summer with?  How about this adorable pair of navy blue nautical stilettos!  These platform peep-toe pair of pumps with sailor’s rope and mirror detailing are from British retailer Dune.  Called the “Sintillate” heels, we could just see Sabrina of today’s “Look-of-the-Day” sporting these after a day of sailing with Humphrey Bogart!


Look-of-the-Day

One of our editors was nearly named Sabrina, due to her parents’ fondness for this 1954 flick.  Sabrina is the story of the title character played by Audrey Hepburn, and our choice for the start of the summer’s “Look-of-the-Day.”  Sabrina is the daughter of a chauffeur caught between the love and lust of two brothers.  Here, Hepburn epitomizes Long Island preppiness wearing white shorts, bare feet and a relaxed plaid shirt while sailing the Long Island Sound.  With Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy costuming the film, it’s no surprise that even Sabrina’s downtime digs are still divine!


Look-of-the-Day

For a movie entitled Australia, this isn’t exactly the first look that would come to our minds (considering the tan, athletic outdoorsmen we tend to associate with the world’s most badass continent- Russell Crowe, Eric Bana, Sam Worthington, and Hugh Jackman – the other lead star of this film!)  But Nicole Kidman looks 100% lovely in this 2008 epic that bombed at the box-office.  Baz Luhrmann’s movie had one other gorgeous aspect besides Mr. Jackman – the costumes!  The director hired none other than his wife, Catherine Martin.  Here, Kidman’s character is arriving in Australia wearing a stunning navy and white outfit with a polka-dotted blouse, along with matching luggage (courtesy of Prada), gloves, hat and that fantastic umbrella!  (She’s gotta keep that porcelain skin protected properly!)  Even though this movie turned out to be a disaster, at least it got Martin an Academy Award nomination!  And a well-deserved one at that!


Look-of-the-Day

Ahoy!  Now this is a Memorial Day outfit!  It’s nautical for the upcoming summer season, and it’s military-inspired to remember all those who have served!  Gossip Girl‘s Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester) tends to be in a state of dudgeon, but here she looks positively sweet in this sailor suit!  Blair’s version is called the “Captain” dress from Bettie Page Clothing.  There are actually dozens of places to buy a knockoff (this editor purchased an identical one for a whopping $25 on eBay).  Miss Waldorf wore this outfit on the first season finale of Gossip Girl when she was supposed to meet Chuck, and take off for Tuscany – but of course, nothing ever goes as planned for Blair.  At least she accessorized well with her neck scarf, Louis Vuitton luggage, and Yves Saint Laurent preppy pumps.  Here’s hoping your Memorial Day goes better than Blair’s!