Tag Archives: St. Patrick’s Day

Uniting a Kingdom of Isles

The Irish and the English have been fighting for centuries, which has led to violence, oppression, terrorism and death.  In the short year that Kate Middleton and Prince William have been married, it seems the royal couple have been attempting to take small steps to uniting the two countries through… fashion?  It might sound shallow at first, but it seems the prince and princess have been honoring the Emerald Isle all year!  Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and in honor of March 17th, Kate Middleton handed out bouquets of shamrocks (the national flower of Ireland) to the Irish Guard (pictured, above).  The princess sported a gorgeous belted green Emilia Wickstead coat with chocolate suede pumps and a matching “Betty Boop” hat by Lock and Co.  She topped off her look with a gold shamrock brooch, previously used by the Queen Mother and Princess Anne, a bouquet of shamrocks in her lapel, and amethyst and diamond earrings by Kiki McDonough (hmm, a jeweler with an Irish surname).  For their enormous wedding last April, Prince William donned the traditional red dress uniform of the Irish Guard.  Considering one out of every three people on Earth watched the royal wedding, we have a feeling the prince was trying to make a statement about his respect for Ireland.  Last year, William was appointed to the honorary rank of of Colonel of the Irish Guard, and last June the couple handed out operational service medals to the Guards who fought in Afghanistan (pictured, below).  Princess Kate has also been sporting Irish designer Orla Kiely quite a bit, lately.  Earlier this week, she wore a lovely gray accordion dress while visiting the Dulwich Picture Gallery (pictured, above left).  In February, while visiting schools in Oxford, she wore a 1970s walnut-brown bird patterned dress coat by Kiely that sold out within minutes (pictured, above right).  While the British-Irish conflict isn’t exactly a problem that will be fixed with clothing, it’s nice to see the young royals making an effort to unite the two cultures with shared traditions and Irish fashion.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Advertisements

Look-of-the-Day

Maureen O’Hara is probably the most notable actress from the Emerald Isle, but she happens to be one of our favorite girls, too!  (Probably because of that fiery Irish independence and temper that seems to come through in all of her characters!)  Here she is in her most famous role as Mary Kate Danaher in the 1952 film The Quiet Man.  O’Hara plays an Irish girl who gets married off to an American boxer (played by John Wayne), much to her dismay.  Here, Mary Kate is sporting a cream-colored tweed jacket, a navy blue dress, and a greenish-grey tam o’shanter that perfectly complements her enigmatic eyes and gorgeous red locks.  Obviously, the two still aren’t seeing eye-to-eye in this particular scene (pictured, below), but they eventually realize they’re made for each other!  Fun Fact: Our parents used to leave out our VHS version of The Quiet Man when we were little girls, to make it look as though leprechauns had watched it while we were sleeping the night before March 17th!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and Erin Go Bragh!


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!


Wednesday’s Shoe

This “Wednesday’s Shoe” is appropriately emerald green, in honor of the Emerald Isle!  This St. Patrick’s Day, you can look like one classy colleen in these babies!  Made by Christian Louboutin (if you hadn’t already figured that out by the red sole) these beautiful shoes are called “Volpi 150” heels.  They are made of satin and have crisscrossed fabric that creates a peep-toe.  Originally $700, you can find them at several online outlets for around $150-$170.  If you don’t want to invest in these kind of shoes for St. Patty’s Day, you can order some adorable shamrock chocolate heels instead!


Look-of-the-Day

St. Patrick’s Day is seven days away, which means it’s officially “Irish Week” at theSkinnyStiletto.  Since our editors are Irish-American, we love talking about fashion from a country that brought us plaid, fisherman sweaters, fair isle and an affection for green!  Our first look that celebrates the Emerald Isle is from the 2009 movie Ondine.  The sexy Colin Farrell plays a single fisherman named Syracuse, with a young, handicapped daughter.  The two both start to fall in love with a women named Ondine, played by Alicja Bachleda, who he catches in his fishing net!  But how did this beautiful woman survive the frigid waters of Ireland?  Syracuse’s daughter believes she must be a “Selke,” a water nymph, but do the mythic creatures really exist?  Costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh has worked on other notable Irish films, including Leap Year and Palme d’Or winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley.  Since Syracuse and his daughter aren’t exactly wealthy or posh, they have to round up some secondhand clothes for Ondine.  This slinky knit dress and hunter green coat (perfect color for the country) could end up looking trashy on anyone else, but matched with Ondine’s natural wavy hair and a pair of tall fisherman boots, she does look like a modern mermaid washed ashore.


Look-of-the-Day

Oh, it’s sad to think St. Patrick’s Day won’t come for another 365 days, but theSkinnyStiletto isn’t done naming their famous Irish lass looks.  This “Fancy Friday” is yet again Maureen O’Hara from The Quiet Man.  This is the first wedding dress we have featured, and while O’Hara looks stunning as always, the gown is definitely old-fashioned and old-country, but the delicate lace, fitted bodice and veil still look quiet pretty.  Unless… it may just be due to the fact the scarlet-haired lady can make anything appear beautiful.  But it’s hard finding a lot of elegant outfits in a culture that prides themselves on surviving famine and hardship!


Look-of-the-Day

It is St. Patrick’s Day, so in honor of the gorgeous green island, today’s Look-of-the-Day is the beautiful lass Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man.  Not a likely candidate for a modern fashion blog, but O’Hara looks divine in whatever she wears – and this plaid cape is no different.  It was hard to get a sharp picture of her whole outfit, but Ms. O’Hara wears it as a shawl, and a scarf for her lovely red locks, very much looking the part of the little Irish girl who steals John Wayne’s heart.  So tonight, before you sip your first Guinness, remember to channel Miss Maureen when getting dressed – be glamorous and green!  Erin Go Bragh!