Take Mr Kernan's silk hat in "Grace" as an example. At the beginning of the story, he almost loses it in the grime of the floor where he falls. In the middle, we learn that he always carries his hat and that he had worn it proudly during his wedding, so it starts to take on symbolic status. We can tell a lot about how Mr Kernan is doing in life if we know what's up with his hat. This is why it's so important that Joyce mentions that Mr Kernan has his hat neatly on his lap when he's in the church at the very end of the story.
As in this story, many of the stories in Dubliners feature clothing that's more than just, well, clothing.
A catalog of Dubliners fashion has to include the following outfits:
- The old man's "suit of greenish black" in "An Encounter" suggests shabbiness and his outsider status.
- Father Keon's "shabby frock-coat" and "turned up" collar tell us how bad the weather is outside, but also that his status as a priest or as a strange older man is not quite clear.
- Madam Glynn's "faded blue dress" suggests that she's a vestige of the past and a has-been.
We'd say something cheesy here about the clothes making the man, but we think you get the point.