Fair Isle or Die! - Chitown Fashionista

06 January 2011 / By Nikia Jefferson

Fair Isle or Die!

OK, it’s not THAT serious. But it would make for a cool bumper sticker, no?

If you follow me on twitter, you’re already aware that I’ve been obsessing over fair isle sweaters.  You know, those ski lodge, snow bunny, sometimes-referred-to-as-a-grandpa-sweater sweaters.  Thanks to TJ MAxx and Banana Republic, I finally got my hands on some great sweaters and for under $30!

A little background: The term “fair isle” stems from a knitting technique originating from an island in Scotland of the same name. The traditional fair isle technique consists of creating patterns typically with mutliple (and alternating) colors. Nowadays, “fair isle” is used more loosely and often to describe anything knitted with a pattern of one or more colors.

Now that we have the technical stuff out of the way, let’s talk about how fair isle can work into your stylish winter wardrobe. There’s no doubt that fair isle sweaters are warm (since they’re typically made of lambswool or merino wool) but many tend to question how they can be fashionable. 

To avoid looking frumpy or outdated, mix it up with the trendier items in your wardrobe.  Layer a fair isle crewneck or cardigan with a faux fur vest OR belt the sweater and pair with a full skirt and tights.  Not ready for a full-out sweater? Try a fair isle vest and pair it with a ruffle blouse and skinny jeans.  Want to just dabble in the world of fair isle?  Start with accessories.  There are also fair isle leggings, hats, scarves and mittens available at every major retailer and thirft store this time of the year. Where there’s a will, there’s certainly a way!

And if you’re STILL not a believer, here’s three outfits from two ChiTown bloggers with major personal style: 

(l-r) photo 1 & 2: Clare of Between Laundry Days (first photo courtesy of Chicago StreetStyle Scene) | photo 3: Lisa of Archives

If that doesn’t inspire you to rock some fair isle, I don’t know what will.

Are you a fan of fair isle? How do you rock it with a modern twist?

P.S. Below are some of the great fair isle items I found while window shopping. Enjoy!

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About The Author

Nikia Jefferson

Nikia Jefferson is the Founder and Editor of ChiTown Fashionista and has always had an affinity for shoes and shopping, in general. In addition to addressing fashion trends and her latest obsessions, Nikia promotes the remarkable, yet underexposed, local shops and designers she encounters in Chicago and beyond. Deemed as ‘the enabler of fashion consumption’, Nikia works to captivate the hearts of fellow shopaholics by featuring the unique treasures found during her shopping adventures.

Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. Between Laundry Days says:

    Wahoo! That's me! I love this post, as I have a deep and undying love for all things fair isle.

  2. archives says:

    weeeeee!!!!! thanks for the feature, nikia!!! 😀

    as clare said, i too have a soft spot for fair isle!!!

  3. Chandra says:

    I really like the idea of wearing a full length fair isle sweater and throwing a fur stole on top! Kind over the top, but I'm gonna do it!


  4. Rae says:

    Cute.. Now you have given me one more thing to buy.. *SMH*

  5. From Suns To Moons says:

    I have always loved these sweaters – it's nice to see I'm not the only young person who does (that's what I've been accused of in the past).

  6. Emma Batia Arnold says:

    I didn't know that! Thanks for enlightening us on the origins of fair isle.

    So, I am holding my very first personal style giveaway. The best 3 looks posted score some classic Chanel makeup and will be featured on my site.

    You should totally enter!!!


  7. Helen@Soft Leather Baby Shoes says:

    I think I am experiencing some Knitwear Love!

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