Posts Tagged ‘red shawls in Key West’

December History: Key West

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

This year everyone may be trying to find the perfect ugly Christmas sweater, but popular winter fashions certainly change with time.

Kate Dolan writes about Key West

In Key West’s early days, the biggest businesses involved shipwrecks and sponges. 

One winter about 150 years ago, instead of ugly Christmas sweaters or Santa hats, the women of Key West all wanted red shawls. At that time, one of the main businesses on the island was salvaging goods from ships that wrecked on the surrounding coral reefs. One year the wreckers brought in a shipment of red merino wool, which is a fine, light valuable type of wool originally developed for Spanish royalty. The salvaged fabric made its way into shops and quickly sold out as every women tried to purchase just enough to sew a fashionable shawl. The red shawl fashion became so popular on Key West that men began referring to clusters of women gathering to chat as “redshawling.”

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