Traditional Irish Clothing: Express Your Irish Side Through the Styles You Wear!

Of all the ways to express your Irish side, traditional Irish clothing may be the most personal and flexible.

Irish Expressions - Traditional Irish Clothing. Photocredit:  Bigstock.


Whether you choose to include clothing from Ireland in your wedding theme or to wear a humorous Irish t-shirt on St. Patrick's Day, the options for expressing your Irish side through clothing are endless.

Here you will have a chance to learn a little bit about Irish clothing, both traditional and modern.

If you find yourself inspired to know more about Irish customs like these, please pay a visit to our main section on Irish trivia and traditions here...

Meanwhile please enjoy Traditional Irish Clothing!

Traditional Irish Clothing: The Early Years...

Historians know little about the very early Irish clothing.

The Celts of early Ireland had no written word, so everything learned of their early clothing was from the records of the words or Greek and Roman writers.

In early Ireland, your clothing identified not only your clan but also your rank in society.

Traditional Irish Clothing:  The Leine

Irish Leine.  Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Nobles and freemen alike wore a leine.

The leine was a Celtic tunic that bloused at the elbow on the sleeve and was wide at the bottom—often extending beyond the knees.

These were normally made of plain linen.

Over the leine, they wore a brat, which you pronounce like the sausage, not the spoiled child.

Both men and women wore leines, but those for women were longer.

The plain garment often had decorative embroidery around the neck, lower hem and sleeves in later years, or they might be sleeveless and plain.

The shorter the leine, the lower your status in society was. Probably because lower status often meant physical labor and a longer leine would impede that.

In fact, some pictures show laborers shirtless and wearing what appears to be a kilt. Again, it wasn’t. It was a leine tied at the waist with a belt and thrown off the shoulders to keep the laborer cooler.

What about a kilt?

In general, the Scots were the kilt wearers, not the Irish! While there’s a perception that the Irish wore kilts, most likely what people considered a kilt was actually a leine gathered at the waist by a belt.

Traditional Irish Clothing: The Brat

Irish Brat. Courtesy of Keltoi Gaelic Clothing.

You’ll see many variations of the Brat depicted in pictures of ancient Ireland.

It was just a piece of rectangular or oval material folded many times, draped over the shoulder and sometimes pinned with a broach.

The early Irish used brats either as a shawl or in inclement weather, put over the head as a hood. The shorter brats were often worn with trews—a type of trouser.

The brat was a cloak that was fastened with a dealg—a brooch. The number of colors in the pattern of the brat indicated the level of importance.

If you were a king, you had seven colors, a Druid had six, noblemen had four colors and freemen only had one.

This type of clothing remained fashionable for centuries.

(Somewhat More) Irish Clothing:  The Aran Sweater

Aran Sweater.  Irish cable knitting pattern.

Of course, Ireland has many of the same fashion influences today as the rest of the world.

However, some articles of traditional Irish clothing are identifiably Irish and still worn today.

When you think of modern Irish clothing, you often picture rich, thick natural wool sweaters with intricate cabled designs.

These are Aran jumpers (sweaters) and originated in the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland.

The women of the area made the original jumpers were from undyed yarn made from sheep wool called Bainin.

Sometimes, they used wool from black sheep, but normally the sweaters are cream in color.

Want to know more?  Visit our article on Irish Wool Sweaters.

Legend has it, the intricate cabling down the front center of the sweaters identifies the clan. We were skeptical at first...

But then ... I'll be darned ... we found this gorgeous website that explains the connection between Aran designs and clan symbols.  It offers a wide range of traditional Irish clothing. You should not miss

Aran Sweater Marketplace

Check it out, then come back and tell us what you think!

(Somewhat More) Modern Clothing:  Tweed Designs

Wool tweed cap.  On lady staying warm.

Tweed is a rugged fabric, resistant to wind and water with excellent insulating properties. 

Like the Aran wool designs, it is used in hats, jackets, scarves and other types of clothing.

The most common theory holds that tweed was developed in Ireland and Scotland as a fabric suited for the weather.

The style of tweed most closely associated with Ireland is Donegal tweed - a handwoven tweed manufactured  for centuries in County Donegal, Ireland.

This area is well suited both for the sheep that donate the required wool, and for the foliage that produces the necessary dyes.

(Somewhat More) Modern Irish Clothing:  Brogue Shoes

Brogue shoes.  The modern look.

Brogue shoes have perforations in the leather to allow water to drain.

These types of shoes originated in Ireland and Scotland and the holes were necessary for those walking in boggy areas.

While they weren’t acceptable formal wear in early times, due to the association with walking in the fields and rural living, today brogue shoes are worn almost everywhere. 

The functional traditional design has taken on a modern look.

(Even More) Modern Irish Clothing...

Traditional Irish Clothing - Irish Flag Shirt

While not traditional, or particularly practical, there are many other types of clothing that can be seen sporting the symbols and sayings of Ireland.

Think "kiss me I'm Irish" T-shirts, ball caps with harps or shamrocks on them, green gloves or stockings... you get the idea.


Want More Irish Fun?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish traditions!

Expressing ourselves through Irish-themed activities gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

Over the years, we have created many free, downloadable Irish games, puzzles, recipes, songbooks, travel guides, party plans, and much, much more.

These are immediately available to you - completely free of charge.

Just answer two quick questions below to get instant access!


How Can I Learn More About Traditional Irish Clothing?

Great question!

Every week we scan the web for great examples of Irish clothing, both traditional and modern.  The good news is; there are a number of terrific places to find beautiful items - and here is one of them!


Traditional Irish Clothing - kids clothes from Blarney Woollen Mills.

Irish Expressions loves Blarney Woollen Mills!

What's Next!

At Irish Expressions, our our goal is simple: to provide you with a unique Irish experience, on demand, wherever you are in the world.

If you have enjoyed our section on fun Irish trivia and traditions, you have probably been exposed to many of the most exciting traditions that Ireland has to offer!

Will that entice you to visit Ireland - or to return if you have already been? 

We hope so!  

But even if that is not possible, you can still enjoy the magic of Ireland in these pages.  Check out the links at the top of the page for simple instructions on how to explore Irish landmarks, sing Irish songs, enjoy Irish food, and much more!

You can also visit us on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest to see amazing pictures and interact with amazing people who share a love of Ireland.

We would love to hear from you - please send us a note here and let us know how we are doing. 

Until then - thanks for visiting Traditional Irish Clothing!  Please continue exploring your Irish side at Irish-Expressions.com.

Want to Feel More Connected to Ireland?  Here's How!

At Irish Expressions we believe everybody – well almost everybody! - has an "Irish side."  So - how nice would it be to have access to a fun Irish experience, on demand, wherever you happen to be?

If you have enjoyed your experience with Irish Expressions so far, here is a simple, free way to stay in touch.

Never miss a post.  Tell us where to send your updates, featuring the latest information from Irish Expressions - and we'll take it from there!

Meanwhile, thanks for visiting!  I hope that we will meet someday, in person or online, and you can tell me about your own connection to the Emerald Isle.

Until then, best wishes -

Bruce Grady

www.irish-expressions.com

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