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.