The deerstalker was a type of cap favored by deer hunters and other sportsmen in nineteenth-century England. The deerstalker became especially fashionable between 1870 and 1890, when sports clothes became a more prominent feature of men's dress. The cap was often worn with Norfolk jackets and knickerbockers, short loosely fitting pants gathered at the knee, and considered an essential element of the Victorian (relating to the times of Britain's Queen Victoria [1819–1901]) hunting ensemble. Also called a "fore and aft," the deerstalker was distinguished by its front and back visors. Large exterior earflaps could be tied on top or allowed to cover the ears for warmth. The cap was usually made of checked material, typically sportsman's tweed or cloth. The crown was lined with scarlet poplin and was reversible.
More than a sportsman's cap, the deer-stalker is commonly associated with British writer Arthur Conan Doyle's (1859–1930) fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It became such a recognized symbol of Holmes thanks to illustrator Sidney Paget (1860–1908). Although Doyle never referred to his character Sherlock Holmes as wearing a deerstalker, Paget drew the cap on Holmes's head in several stories, perhaps because he himself wore one. Actors playing Holmes on stage and screen have consistently referred to Paget's drawings as a model. Another famous fictional deerstalker wearer was Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of author J. D. Salinger's (1919–) famous novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Harrison, Michael. The History of the Hat. London, England: Herbert Jenkins, 1960.
Ulseth, Hazel, and Helen Shannon. Victorian Fashions. Cumberland, MD: Hobby House Press, 1989.