Twilight in Vermont: The Rise and Fall of the Moriarty Ski Hat

If there’s one character in “The Official Preppy Handbook” who could be singled out for derision, it’s the skier. Wearing mirrored sunglasses and a cocky sneer, he looks like the kind of guy you’d hate everything about.

Everything, that is, except his ski cap from Moriarty of Stowe, Vermont.

For five decades the Moriarty cap and the Stowe ski industry grew in tandem. Here is a story that appeared in the June 2006 issue of Skiing Heritage Journal, recounting how Anabel Moriarty founded a cottage industry and outfitted American Winter Olympians, including her son, from 1956-2006.

Today, as the opening ceremony marks the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, I wish I could tell you that Moriarty is still a dominant force in ski hats. But there is no longer a store on Main Street, according to the Stowe Chamber of Commerce. The Vermont Ski Museum was also unable to locate a store representative.

But there are still hats available. The museum has a few caps left emblazoned with Stowe, and an Internet search reveals some interesting things for preps who turned left at Bohemian. Moriarty hats and sweaters also appear on eBay from time to time.

The optimist in me believes the Moriarty hat is simply dormant. I’d also like to think there are some Vermont knitters just waiting for someone to appreciate their work again.

As the old advisement used to say, “The People of Vermont make great maple syrup, great cheddar, and the best ski hats in the world.” — CHRISTOPHER SHARP

21 Comments on "Twilight in Vermont: The Rise and Fall of the Moriarty Ski Hat"

  1. I enjoyed today’s post on Moriarty hats, particularly because I think I might have a surprise for you. On a recent trip to my alma mater In Madison, Wisconsin (where I lived in the private dorms with all the east coasters and used to party with a guy on the men’s rowing team) I purchased a wool knit hat bearing the University of Wisconsin’s name and colors. (According to the OPHB I wear my alma mater’s colors whenever possible.) The tag reads “Vermont Originals; Handmade In The USA.”

    http://www.vermontoriginals.com/store52/agora.cgi?cart_id=6828912.29906&p_id=00199&xm=on&ppinc=search2

  2. Gabe,
    Found their web site. Thsnks for the heads up.

  3. Nick Sullivan | February 17, 2010 at 11:54 am |

    The other striking thing about this chap is that hes wearing his ski boots on the wrong feet…or is that intentiona? I wonder…

  4. I need a knitting pattern so I can recreate a Moriarty hat.
    Any suggestions ?
    Couldn’t find any pattern/instuctions on-line.
    Prefer not current “Vermont Originals” copy.
    What happened to Anabel’s stable of knitters ?
    Any children,sibs, grandchildren of knitters who could oblige with a knitting pattern ?
    This is just for me, not mass consumption.
    Thank you for any leads or “connections” Victoria
    VCMerson@aol.com

  5. @ Victoria if your still out there, You AOL account is not accepting e-mail.

  6. 1. He should have on Vuarnets.
    2. Preppy skiers where I live wore Cowichan sweaters in this era (60s-80s).
    3. Preppy skiers where I live wore Helly Hansen rain pants and jackets, mostly. In the dark green. It’s wet here in the PNW.
    4. Don’t forget the wool scarf.

  7. If you’re looking for a knitting pattern, do a web search for “Whitney’s 70s Ski Hat”. I just made one. It’s awesome.

  8. How about the reindeer love making hat?

  9. I’ve lost my pattern for the original moriarty hat. I remember all of it except the end in casting off. I think it was something like K2tog slip one,then Knit one then pass slip stitch over I made one for my husband 40 years ago. It’s finally at its end. Can you please help me
    Thank you
    Carol Blair.

  10. elder prep | June 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm |

    Christopher, your first para accurately captured my thoughts when I first, and every time thereafter, saw the picture of the skier in OPH. I realize that it is an illustration of the appropriate ski equipment ensamble, but he also captures the apres ski cool guy in the lodge trying to impress the girls.

  11. Fun stuff! Last time Ivy Style ran a Vermont Ski hat feature, I was smitten. I showed it to my wife and prepared to order one for 50 clams. Just before I pulled the trigger she showed me a knitting pattern and offered to replicate one. Why spend 50 bucks and have it next week when you can spend 100 bucks on yarn and have it in a year.!? Worth the wait and extra money. The ready made catalogue colors were kind of so-so. I picked a charcoal field with cream, red and navy stripe. It turned out great. It’s a total trophy AND the pattern showed a soft cashmere inner lining for your ears and neck. Triangle top+Jaunty tilt+Period correct eyewear+Waffle stompers=John C Killy. Unfortunately, I went skiing it would John F Kerry. Oh well, No one skis in central Phoenix anyway. But it does a great job of keeping your ears warm while riding your bike in winter.
    The pattern came from purlsoho.com and is called the 70s ski hat.
    Recommended.

  12. Richard E. Press | October 19, 2019 at 4:25 pm |

    Moriarty Hats were made by Ma Moriarty beginning the 1950 for her champion downhill ski champion racer son & man-about-town (albeit Stowe) “Mad Man” Marvin. Ma Moriarty ran a dorm style bed and breakfast that we Dartmouth guys frequented after many long days nights of skiing and boozing.

  13. Jonathan Sanders | October 19, 2019 at 8:13 pm |

    I’ve skied at Stowe. And there is no wearing of jeans. Way too cold. Save the jeans for out west.

  14. The Levi’s of the period were the last of the good ones.

  15. Otis Brewster Hogbottom III | October 21, 2019 at 10:08 am |

    The demise of this ski hat is due to a couple factors. The biggest factor is that most anyone with a brain (pun intended) wears a helmet.

    The second factor is that while the Moriarty was functional, it was also quite ugly. Après-ski, I’d rather wear a wool baseball hat. LL Bean has a couple decent ones right now.

  16. Davie Schumpert | November 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm |

    Maineman,
    I discovered Moriarty hats through my childhood hero Glen Plan a last year during his annual Down Home Tour via Instagram. I also got to ski with him on July 4th 2005 at Mammoth Mountain CA where I taught kids for 2.5 seasons and he would always come after his home in “White Trash South Lake Tahoe” as the N Lake Tahoers liked to think of it melted.

    After all, he was the “SkiEO” of Heavenly. We’ll, he posted a pic of one he got eons ago and was amped to wear it atAgo we, making sure to wear it backwards as many did to annoy Mrs Moriarty. I have one of said deer shagging hats after I found a lady who owns a general store in Pennyltucky. She found whoever owned all of Mrs Moriarty’s remaining stock and bought it all, for sale on Ebay.

    Here is one I considered buying before I bought the orange/peach one with black deer shagging. She is a really nice lady too.

    Item #
    153691687313

    Her Fleabay seller ID is:

    kathleen6375

    Now go get yourself one!!!
    Tell her I sent you too. I bought it for myself after I survived a nasty bought of DKA…2 weeks off of work.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  17. Alton Day Stone | December 17, 2019 at 10:09 pm |

    I have two Moriarity hats: one from 1972 – 1973 “Mountain Road Enterprizes” and one from 1978-1979 “Matterhorn”. Both for Ski Bum Race teams for which I was a participant”. Spring of 1973 we actually won a weakly race. I got a buzz on at the Matterhorn and during the celebration at Sister Kate’s made the mistake of taking on Rock the house celebrity comedian. My mistake! Rock savaged me.

  18. Alton Day Stone | December 17, 2019 at 10:12 pm |

    Whats that guy saying?? The Moriarity hats were far from ugly!!! Very stylish and set the standard for wool ski hats. And yes, most warm.

  19. If you want to buy one they are available through the J.Peterman company (jpeterman.com) currently on sale for $38. Made in Stowe, VT. Slightly improved on the original in my opinion it has a poly microfleece headband, no itching. Navy with a red,white and light blue stripe.

  20. Ok.. grew up in Stowe .. Was in the moriarti store as a kid many times along with Shaw’s General Store which still exists today.

    As for the hat http://www.jpeterman.com offers the hat they say made in Stowe VT fir $38.

    On the otherhand I have my original that I wear in Jackson Hole / Vail along with a vintage Woolrich parka bought at Shaw’s in mid 70’s.

    Vintage is back except I can’t ski in my original Lange Comps .. New Lange XT120. I still ski on 205 Rossi Stratos. You can buy brand new vintage skis in all places Carolina. $50. New Look Nevada bindings and Rammy poles. Eastern skiers know how to carve a turn.

  21. I have a custom Moriarity ski sweater with my high school colors as a chest stripe. Still in awesome shape with a label. I use to be in the textile business and it is beautifully knit. I got it in I think 1968.

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