January 23, 2013

I ♥ Your Fair Isle Sweater

I continue to obsess over the pictures of Paul and Linda McCartney and their family living on a farm in Scotland in the 70’s. How could I not? Looking over them again recently got me thinking about Fair Isle sweaters. For most of my life they were a symbol of classic New England prep school style – something that for much of my life was too close to home to be able to appreciate. Sure I had a literal stage where I myself wore Fair Isle sweaters while weaving Mexican rope bracelets and listening to the Grateful Dead, but when I moved on there was no going back.

Then in the late 90’s when I was living in New York, just out of college, I met my friend Laura Bailey. She had the best sexy school girl look around and in fact still does. I remember she would wear a fairly traditional Fair Isle sweater with her hair in a high ponytail (maybe even a bow tied around it), a thick coat of mascara on her lashes, jeans, and pink lizard Gucci pumps that were a gift from her boyfriend. Laura’s look completely re-invented Fair Isle for me, or any patterned wool sweater for that matter.

In recent years, Fair Isle has popped up on the runways – most memorably at Proenza Schouler (see the photo below) and taken the preppy look in a more graphic and polished direction.

Have I found the perfect Fair Isle sweater for me? Not yet. But not that I am living on a farm, doing my best impression of the Linda McCartney, it’s high time I found it.

Linda McCartney in Scotland, 1970’s.
A Proenza Schouler pre fall sweater makes an appearance at Paris fashion week (Photo by The Sartorialist)


Linda and Paul McCartney doing family style Fair Isle.



Paul on the farm.


I love Fair Isle worked in with a bit of fashion.


Paul again, showing that bright colors give Fair Isle a fresh, more modern effect.


This Twiggy picture reminds me of my memories of Laura Bailey in Fair Isle. Styled hair and a bit of makeup adds glam to an otherwise countryside look.
Mia Farrow.
Another Proenza Fair Isle sweater. Just enough preppy, just enough fashion.
Paul enjoying life on the farm.


Truman Capote ice skating in Fair Isle at Rockefeller Center.


I love the unconventional pattern of Paul’s Fair Isle sweater here. I would like to find one like this.



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Emily Elyshevitz
6 years 1 month ago

I love the beautiful photo of Linda.

Ale Aguila
7 years 1 month ago

3 years ago, I bought your book in Miami and it was a fantastic fashion "bible". Now I study fashion history in my home, London and i find your book an incredible inspiration not only for my carrer but also for my blog.
I love your blog as well.


7 years 10 months ago

The world was so young then.

7 years 10 months ago

I love the two Proenza Shouler ones. I would wear them with almost everything.

7 years 10 months ago

Now I want one! <3