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

7 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.

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