All hail the seasonal sweater that belongs in every man’s wardrobe
Fall has descended upon us and with that comes cooler weather and the impending holiday season. In other words, it’s sweater weather.
The Fair Isle sweater is a classic that every gentleman should have in their wardrobe – an ideal pick for evenings at home, weekends spent with family or honestly, any day you want to add a little pattern.
A knit sweater that uses a technique to craft intricate multicolored patterns, the Fair Isle sweater is named after its namesake island in Northern Scotland. Typically, patterns are comprised of between two and five colors that use two colors in each row so they can be worked in the round while knitting. Today there are a few techniques used to generate these patterns, but a real Fair Isle sweater is warm, cozy and knit from wool for cooler days and nights.
Although you could wear it to work with a tie, a Fair Isle sweater is best left for the more casual (or sharp casual) affairs. A quintessential sweater often seen in popular media at the dinner table of the suburban father, it is a great way to layer at home. Whether you wear it at the table for Sunday dinner with a tie and corduroy trousers, or out on a winter excursion with your better half, having at least one or two Fair Isle sweaters is a great investment.
Although they now come in various styles, the most iconic is the crew neck jumper. A traditional pullover, this Fair Isle is so versatile that it can be paired with practically any casual outfit you can think of. Whether it’s a pair of denim jeans, chinos or cords, it’s an elegant way of avoiding the blazer at holiday parties in favor of something far more comfortable.
There are a number of heritage brands offering these stylish jumpers where you don’t have to worry about it losing its shape, coming undone or – worse – having the pattern look off or gaps in the knit. Brands like J. Crew, Blarney Woolen Mills in Ireland, and even Brooks Brothers ofter a small range of these knitted delights.
Although we don’t recommend an “ugly sweater,” there are many holiday-inspired Fair Isles that are sure to impress during the season. Patterns such as a jacquard, or even animals such as elks trotting the chest can quickly become themed when used with red, white and green color palettes.
In the end, the Fair Isle sweater is a perfect option for men of all ages who prize looking elegant and sophisticated in even the most casual attire.