The Modern Way to Wear a Fair Isle Sweater

A Fair Isle Sweater, one of the most traditional sweaters ever, is suddenly modern and cool. Fair Isle vests, cardigans, and turtlenecks usually associated with Apres-Ski are showing up as street style.

Instead of looking like a dated, momsy classic, the Fair Isle sweater has taken a twist, and there are new ways to wear it.  It’s being worn with everything from baggy cargo pants to brightly colored puffer coats, edgy leather, white pants,  and even full-length tulle party dresses.

Talbots has a great selection of Fair Isle sweaters! Here’s how I like to wear this one they sent my way to look casual and modern.

Fair Isle sweater jeans

The reimagining of the Fair Isle sweater is all part of fashion’s love affair with the preppy trend that’s popular this year. I’m calling this new look, Playful Preppy.

How do you get a Playful Preppy look with a Fair Isle Sweater? Here are some style pointers.

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1. Go For Bright Colors

If you read my post about fall trends, you know that there is a new optimism after months of nothing too much exciting happening in fashion. Color has burst onto the scene, showing up in even the most traditional places, including the Fair Isle sweater. Fair Isle sweaters in neutral shades, or conventional colors like red, blue, and green, are always in style, but we are also seeing Fair Isle sweaters in fresh, bright, and unexpected color combinations this year.

For example, this cute Talbots Fair Isle Mockneck Pullover is a creative mix of yellow, pink, terra cotta, green, and more. By mixing colors that you usually don’t see together, you can create a more playful, artsy look.

2. Layer Your Fair Isle Sweater

Layering is the most fashion-forward way to wear anything Fair Isle right now. Try a Fair Isle vest over a dress or shirt, or wear it under a tailored jacket like this colorful Shetland Blazer to look modern and preppy.

3. Mix Fair Isle with a Print or Pattern

With its many colorful rows of stitching, a Fair Isle sweater might seem rather busy, so it’s fine to wear it as a pop of color with something neutral.  However, when you combine it with another pattern, it can look really artsy. For example, I’ve mixed my Fair Isle sweater with this lively check jacket.

The trick to pattern mixing is that both items, the jacket, and sweater, should share similar colors. My jacket has pink and green in it, which pick up on the pink and green in my sweater. Also, the check pattern is much smaller than the larger Fair Isle pattern on the sweater. This difference in scale also makes the look work.

4. Wear Your Fair Isle Sweater with Modern Pieces

At the moment,  straight-leg and skinny jeans in a dark wash, as well as leather, cargo, and even drawstring jogger pants, are trending. They’re all a modern match for a Fair Isle sweater.



5. Accessorize with a Loafer

An easy way to step into the Fair Isle look is with a loafer. Loafers are the “it shoe” at the moment and go perfectly with this preppy look.  My green loafers (similar) give my outfit a polished, casual look that is also a little quirky. You can also go with a quieter look by wearing this outfit with a classy, neutral tan or black loafer.

As for jewelry, these are my Braided Huggie Hoop earrings that I wear with just about everything. They’re from my favorite jewelry designer, Dean Davidson. Check out some of my other favorite Dean Davidson jewelry here.


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Do you have other ideas for how to style a Fair Isle sweater? I’d love to know. Above are links to shop this look.  Below you’ll find some more cozy Fair Isle Sweaters I found.

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*Thanks to Talbots and Dean Davidson for sponsoring this post.

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