Let's Go Shopping

  • Reader Question: What Guys Should Wear on St. Patrick’s Day

Reader Question: What Guys Should Wear on St. Patrick’s Day

11th March 2013



Think the luck of the Irish lies in your St. Patty’s Day outfit?

In like a lion, out like a lamb. That’s what they say about March, and I hope that it’s true.

On Friday here in New York, it was spitting snow (Thursday too, which annoyingly delayed my mom and sister’s flight out here for a fun girls’ weekend), but we woke up Saturday to a sunny day in the 50s, which subsequently felt like the 80s thanks to the previous day’s horror show of a winter redux. I mean, in March? I’ll take 50s any day; it was great.

And right smack dab in the middle of this tempestuous month, we light upon St. Patrick’s Day.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a few readers ask about what to wear to their upcoming St. Patty’s Day celebrations.

One said,

“I’d like something low key but I want it to stand out (if that makes any sense). I was thinking a kelly green hoody, chambray/denim/oxford shirt, orange bow tie and either camo pants,denim or khaki chinos.”

So…’s the thing. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I’m actually not a huge fan of guys going loading on the green on St. Patrick’s Day. Sounds crazy, I know, since you guys are aware of how much I love when you wear more color.

It’s just that piling on the leprechaun hue for the day feels a little over-the-top – a little, well, immature.

Remember your third grade teacher who would dress in head-to-toe orange and black on Halloween? You know he or she meant well, but you also rolled your eyes at them just a bit. And you were like, seven. That’s a bit what you look like when you “dress” for St. Patrick’s Day. And it should go without saying, but us ladies do not want to date our third grade teacher (no offense Mrs. Battista. You were great, and I’ll always cherish the time we spent together).

While I can see how this all might come off as Scrooge-like (excuse my mixing holiday metaphors), it’s really not. I love holidays. Love ‘em. All of ‘em. Presidents’ Day? Gimme. Fourth of July? I’m on it. But in recent years, say, since I’ve been old enough to celebrate a holiday by toasting to it, I’ve noticed that many guys who use the holiday as an excuse to drink, do so excessively.

The results are not pretty.


Love the sentiment, but keep it off your t-shirt

My one and only experience with St Patty’s Day in Hoboken – a big thing here in NYC – left a sour taste in my mouth…and probably the scent of more than a few dudes puking out of faux-Irish pubs on my clothes. THAT is who I think of when I think of guys dressed up for St. Patty’s Day. The ones who can’t hold their liquor. The ones who are still holding on to college. The ones who are probably hiding (or not really even hiding) a beer gut under their “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirt they bought at Urban Outfitters sophomore year of college and drag out every March.


Which brings me, slowly, back to the question of what to wear on St. Patrick’s Day. My distaste for guys in t-shirts that say ostensibly funny things can wait another day, but suffice it say to I think guys would do well to rein it in a bit this Sunday. Skip any article of clothing that refers to how drunk you are. Skip the orange bow tie. Skip the shamrock beads. Skip the leprechaun hat.

That said, if you want to incorporate just a little bit of green into your St Patty’s Day ensemble, a kelly green shirt like the one the reader mentioned above would look nice while not making me wonder what frat you wandered off from. If you want to start celebrating a little early, why not try a small pin of a shamrock on your lapel? That’s a classy nod to the actual holiday, and not just what the holiday’s become.

Tell me: Do you dress in green for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you celebrate the holiday with a little (or a lot) of day drinking? Or, like me, will you duck and run for cover when the partiers take the streets this weekend?

(images via Etsy: 1, 2)

  • Jessy

    One of the local bars is offering a free beer to readheads. Since I have a soft spot for cute gingers, you might see me there.

    Are olive pants considered green? It’s the greenest piece of clothing I own.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Hmm, I don’t think anyone will think you’re dressing up for St Patrick’s Day in olive pants.

      • Jessy


  • Nick P

    I’ll be wearing either a kelly green polo, or a light green button up, likely with beige chino shorts as I celebrate in Savannah, GA, where the high is a mere 72 for the weekend. I was going to look for a kelly green sport coat, but I decided not to, as I don’t see wearing it any other time, except for a costume piece … maybe. If it happens to be in the 60s, I’ll opt for jeans or chinos and throw on my orange socks as well.

    • Style Girlfriend

      a “mere” 72… listen to you!

    • TJ

      I marched in the parade there in high school. That town is great for St. Patrick’s day. I need to go back there now that I’m old enough to enjoy the festivities.

  • Josh

    Weather permitting, I’m planning on busting out my kilt on Friday. As for the holiday itself, I expect my usual gym and library time on the weekend to be even quieter than usual.

  • Luke

    I’m probably going with a green gingham shirt with a mostly navy with some small green accent stripes for most of my seen green. Rest of the look will be gray tweed pants /w matching vest, gray flat cap, and Dark Brown AE Daltons, with hunter green laces. Essentially avoiding the “tacky” Irish look.


    Great article! I always like to try to do something a little special with my wardrobe for each holiday, but it’s definitely easy to go overboard and look foolish. This year for St. Patty’s I’m trying a green gingham shirt from Frank and Oak, but if it’s too bold for me to wear casually for some spring color throughout the season it will probably go back.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Sounds like a great outfit; hope to see it as an #OOTW submission soon!

  • Matt M

    As I’m 50% Irish, I love this holiday. Last year I wore a brown v-neck sweater with a dark green/black/white type plaid shirt, and green chinos from the gap. Forget if I wore Chucks or Desert boots on my feet. The pants obviously stood out a bit, but the dark color of the sweater dialed them back and the green in the shirt was pretty subdued.

    • Style Girlfriend

      That sounds like a great look! Very restrained yet festive :)

  • Rory

    Well, I am Irish born and bred and still live in Ireland, so here are a few things from a 100% genuine Irishman:

    First off – the dress all in green idea is more of an Irish-American thing. In Ireland we might wear one green thing but really it is not a given. In fact, most people dressed in green from head to toe are usually American tourists. So yeah, it is a bit “tacky” so best to give it a miss. One thing you could do is take inspiration from traditional Irish clothes and wear something like a Donegal Tweed blazer or an Aran sweater. Or just go with olive chinos/cords/jeans (the new Levi 501′s are cool) and wear a smart blazer and shirt. If you can’t do the above just wear something smart and get a small Irish flag lapel pin or wear a sprig of shamrock/clover on your lapel.

    People drink to excess here too so I am not going to lecture you on that – but I do agree that it gets old after a while. Also don’t drink green beer, it is muck. They don’t even serve it here. Stick to Guinness or try some nice Irish whiskey (standard is Jameson but if you want something special try Red Breast or Midleton)

    Finally – having lived in America myself I know you guys all call it St. Patty’s Day

    Seriously, it is St. Patricks day or Paddy’s Day but NEVER Patty’s Day.

    Trust me…I’m Irish ;-)

    • Style Girlfriend

      That’s so interesting that no one calls it St Patty’s Day there! I like “Paddy’s Day” though; I’m going to start working that in to conversation; I’ll sound so hip to the scene :)

      • Rory

        Hehe – well your last name is Collins, you must have some Irish blood! As for the Patty/Paddy thing, well Paddy comes from the Irish for Patrick (Padraig) and Patty is the diminutive of Patricia.

        My middle name is Patrick so you can trust me on this one hehe

  • DanPatrickFlores

    I like to not wear green when going out for St. Paddy’s, in hopes that a cute girl pinches me…of course, expectations and reality rarely meet.

  • justinweeks

    It is duck and cover for me because St. Patty’s day is amateur hour. And, being someone who is actually Irish I hate that the most visible representation of the Irish is boiled down to the stereotype. Now with that said, I ALWAYS were something green. This is strictly to avoid all of the comments that are made when I don’t wear green. I usually go for a patterned shirt that has green in it. Perhaps something like this.

  • Mike

    I found a spectacular forest green sport coat from the 70s (polyester, with super wide lapels) at my local thrift shop. It feels just like your grandmas old couch, and I’m pretty sure it will repel any liquid that may get spilled on it. I plan on wearing that, with a collared shirt, and green wool knit tie, and some jeans (dark wash, slim fit, or course). I’m way more excited about this than I should be!

  • hbc14

    I’m with you on keeping it low key on St. Patricks Day. Don’t dress like a fool, don’t act like a fool. Everyone has a good time.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Hear hear.

  • Tom Allan

    I shall not even pretend to be Irish and stay true to my roots. This means breaking out the kilt and the Scotland rugby shirt for the evening.

  • Alexander

    Although this one I won’t be able to do anything as it’s Sunday I usually I dig St. Paddy’s Day at my favorite local Irish Pub because the rate of immature behavior and drunkards like you described them is rather low as the pub doesn’t really tolerate them. It’s usually the friendly and social atmosphere I’m drawn to, especially regarding being open to strangers which is generally not a big thing in central Europe, less so where I live. So that is quite refreshing.

    The usual crowd at that pub majorily also doesn’t necessarily go overboard with their outfit, it’s mostly restricted to just one item or accessory. As I said, it’s more about the atmosphere + usually some sweet live music.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Yes! The live music at Irish pubs is always great

  • TJ

    I wore a hunter green knit tie last St. Patricks day. I had the green but it was subtle and not too much. I also hate the slogan t-shirts and the ridiculousness of St. Patrick’s day attire.

    • Style Girlfriend

      That tie sounds great!

      • TJ

        It is. I got it at the thrift store for dirt cheap. I do so love the thrift store.

  • Eric

    I’ll probably throw on a subdued green sweater if it’s weather appropriate, but you definitely won’t catch me wearing green from my shoes and socks up to a green plastic hat.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Good to hear Eric. Good to hear.

  • Derek

    Aww, I can’t wear these?

    More seriously, I will be in New Orleans this weekend for a bachelor party where it’ll be 75 and muggy but I’ve gotta party. I WAS thinking of wearing the slightly corny Limerick Polo ( since it’ll be 75 degrees and I like that it’s festive but understated (white with just a few goofy shamrocks on the collar). Maybe some grey jeans and a pair of white Jack Purcells?

    • Style Girlfriend

      sounds good to me!

  • Scott

    I’ll be rocking some kelly green retro Pumas, and that will be the only green.. They’re not subtle but in years past they get compliments and I don’t think it’s too much since I’m not head to toe green.

    I must add, the lapel pin or small clip on accessory is kinda weak.. you can do better people! :)

    • Style Girlfriend

      I think it’s better to go too subtle than the other way around on this holiday. Those Pumas sound great!

  • Arizona Mike

    Probably an earth-tone tweed sport jacket and dark brown wool trousers with a pair of dub monks, mustard oxford cloth button-down, set off by tie in a subdued green paisley.

    I have enormous respect for the real Saint Patrick, who was himself a former slave who returned to Ireland as a Bishop to challenge the pagan kings of Ireland, and who demanded in no uncertain terms that they end slavery and stop selling children into prostitution (in the two surviving letters we have from him). I can’t see celebrating the anniversary of his death by drinking myself into oblivion in a bar, so I’ll probably go to church and have a quiet beer or two at home. Maybe watch “The Quiet Man.”

    • Style Girlfriend

      I didn’t know all that about St. Patrick; thanks so much for sharing!