Who owns a hat for 50 years?  Well, if it’s a Moriarty hat, perhaps you understand why.

Getting ready to shovel the driveway one cold morning last winter, I reached to the top shelf of the hall closet for a hat.  My fingers felt the double-thick headband of my old Moriarty hat tucked up out of sight.  I pulled it over my ears and went a-shoveling.  Working the shovel in knee-deep in snow, a thought occurred to me.  Wait a minute.  I bought that hat from Mrs. Moriarty’s shop on the Stowe Mountain Road in 1964.  That made it fifty years old.  My hat was fifty.  It has been with me in trunks, suitcases, boxes and dresser drawers in moves from New York to California to Japan back to California and then to Massachusetts.  Been with me at Mammoth Mountain, cross-country in Appleton Farms, MA, going to class in Syracuse, sailing the Gulf of Maine, walking to work from North Station in downtown Boston.  Fifty years is a long time to own a hat.  Of course, I had other hats, but my Moriarty kept popping into my hand from time to time from the top shelf.  How did this happen?

It's quite the hat. Back in the 60s and 70s, Moriarty hats were iconic.  The Preppy Handbook lampooned them as an essential part of the spoiled college kid outfit.  Almost everyone I skied with at Song Mountain, Tully, NY, had one.  The three points on the top were like a rooster’s cockscomb, distinctive and bold.  You wore your hat down tight over your ears with your goggles wrapped around your head.  No helmets in those days.  It was a “look” that even the most tentative skiers could exhibit.

Mrs. Moriarty founded a cottage industry around weaving those hats.  Soon outpaced by the volume of orders, Mrs. M. enlisted an army of fifty weavers in Stowe village, producing as many as 40,000 in 1965.  At its height, the Moriarty hat was as ubiquitous a symbol of skiing as Head skis and Marker turntable bindings.  An ad in SKI was bold enough to say, “The people of Vermont make great maple syrup, great cheddar cheese and the best ski hats in the world.”  As I said, icon status.

You can buy a vintage Moriarty hat on eBay or from the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum that somehow has a stock of left over inventory from the later days of the company.  The Moriarty family got out of the business in the 80s.

Mrs. Moriarty was told by skiers that "they skied better" with her hat on. Credit: SKI January, 1965
Mrs. Moriarty was told by skiers that “they skied better” with her hat on.
Credit: SKI January, 1965

Don’t ask why I never sent my hat off to the Salvation Army.  Despite the odd moth hole, it has simply always been part of my kit along with a handful of books, a banjo, a lighter from my Navy destroyer, and other small remainders of the past.  Things that travel through life with you have value.  When you pick them up again after many years, memories start to emerge in layers.  Even after many years.  Even a ski hat.  That’s why I love my Moriarty hat.

Do you still have one?

For more information, check out Retro-Skiing.com as well as Ivy-Style.com.

17 Comments

  1. i bought one also. in fact, i was with the author and we bought them together. he looked better in his, so that is why he kept it.

  2. I retired to VT from Essex and couldn’t help but to notice that you xc skied at Appleton farm. I used to, and in a good snow winter it was close, cheap and got me psyched for skiing up here. I retired here, and found my way to the museum as a part-time archivist and when I catalog the old stuff it is a trip down memory lane. Happy skiing! Laurence

  3. That’s the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum in Stowe!

  4. Avatar Chris Sharp says:

    I enjoyed reading this.

    Thanks for the plug.

    C.Sharp from Ivy Style

  5. Anyone have a pattern for the Moriarty Hat?

  6. You can actually still buy new old stock from http://www.thecountrycupboards.com in Ligonier Pa. The last owner still drops off stock when she visits town. Lots of the iconic deer loving eachother design.

  7. Great story Mike. Loved reading this. I still have my Baxter Green one from back in the day. Dated but a classic. Thanks for the memory.

  8. Avatar Bruce Sherman says:

    After 56 years of marriage involving 2 wives…6 moves (last to Utah!)…two kids…and 89 years, I’ve lost track of mine! But I sure do remember it…especially on those 20 below days on Mansfield when we skied no matter what! If there’s a Heaven, Mrs. Moriarity is certainly in it but I’m not so sure about Marvin.

  9. Avatar Stephen Post says:

    I still have mine. I don’t wear it as much now, as I have switched to a helmet.

  10. I still hava colloection of them. They are great hats and have stood the test of time. Go retro.

  11. Avatar Richard Kavey says:

    Probably bought mine in 1964 also at Ms. Moriartys shop on the Mt Rd. It’s indestructible! Though somewhat infamous for the wild itchies it causes resulting in protracted scalp scratching on removal. I will never part with mine, though will never again where it. Like my late fathers Tyrolean hat covered with pins from ski areas across North America and Europe, it’s a find trip down memory lane.

  12. I still have three of Mrs. Moriarty hats. My four children all had
    Moriarty Hats. Of course B4 Helmets. I played Tennis with Marvin
    Moriarty a few years ago in Stowe and he is now in Vero Beach
    Fl. and doing fine. I miss him. Nice guy.

  13. Avatar Fred Sittig says:

    I still have mine, it’s red with my initials in blue, FDS, everyone made fun of it but I was one of a few that had a Moriarty ski hat and I will never part with it⛷

  14. Avatar Vic Polonski says:

    I not only have my hat but my Morarrty sweater which I still wear when I ski.
    They don’t make them like that anymore.

  15. I still have my yellow Moriarity hat from my days living in Killington, Vermont back in the ’70s. It is one of my warmest hats and I wear it all the time.

  16. I have owned numerous M hats with the tassles which were customed designed to match all my ski Jackets.
    currently I have two that I use daily Mon-Fri. blue one green one
    I never ski on holidays and week ends. J

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