The Fair Isle jumper or British cool


16 December 2018

Today we are talking about the Fair Isle jumpers, or sweaters, not ugly though, actually quite colorful and woolly and embraced by some cool fashion brands. An ode to color!

Fair Isle is a traditional knitting technique from Fair Isle, in the Shetland Islands. The island today has a population of 55 people precisely. The term was first applied to woolens in the 1850s but the origin of the patterns is vague.

This unique technique creates patterns with multiple colours. The island’s geometric motifs migrated beyond its shores in the 1920s thanks to painter John St Helier Lander who immortalised the Duke of Windsor in a Fair Isle knit in a 1921, which helped push the then flagging sales of Fair Isle through the roof. It rose to fame when Edward VIII, Prince of Wales, wore one publicly on a golf course in the 1920s.

Another Fair Isle fan is Paul McCartney who embraced the pattern, especially Fair Isle vests, in the 1970s. According to the  Wall Street Journal, in 1970 McCartney went to Scotland to live the local life with his family after the break-up of the Beatles and that is where he began to wear the style.

In Brideshead Revisited (2008), Matthew Goode also wears the vest.

Curiously the Fair Isle is seen mainly on men, a desire for color to warm up their Winter days perhaps… It is true that men are less “allowed” to wear color and may want to lighten up a drab wardrobe, gray street and minimalist techy clothes.

Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Chanel have created their own this year, promoting English craft and heritage, and globally it is one of the most adapted and copied patterns in the world.

Perhaps, like Paul McCartney, you can trade city style for country bliss and feel all the happier for it.

To find your ideal Fair Isle-type jumper, discover the selection by The Guardian.

If you want to know more about are colors and access looks that could suit you, go and discover our Colorbird Styling Coach.

©I-DYLIC. Article by Eleonore Vadon