There are cosy jumpers, cool jumpers, and then there’s the fair isle jumper – the sort of knit that evokes an apres-ski, moneyed vibe that never goes out of style. In my book, that’s one sort of jumper I need to own. And I’m not alone.
From Princess Diana, who wore her neon pink and lime green incarnation sportingly so with neutral cord trousers, to the modern-day Princess of Wales, Kate, who is no stranger to falling back on a fair isle jumper for winter engagements and festive appearances. Proving once again that the fair isle pattern (named after an island in Shetland, northern Scotland, home to the knitting technique) lends itself not just to the slopes – or the apres-ski bar – but holiday parties, Christmas get togethers and even the office party.
Of course, the fair isle sweater is nothing new. It isn’t reinventing the fashion wheel – although its more recent iterations include trend-led elements like pops of colour, puffed sleeves, cropped lengths and touches of sparkle. But the way in which it’s worn now, is.
How I chose the best fair isle jumpers
- Design: Staying as true to the traditional fair isle pattern as possible, I’ve picked sweaters that are on the same track as the Scottish design.
- Style: The majority of products are jumpers, but I’ve found a few other knitted designs to include – all with a fair isle pattern – to show how versatile this trend is.
- Fabric: Even though many of those included are made from polyester or less-natural fabrics, I’ve highlighted the ones made from wool, cotton or cashmere.
- Price: You can spend upwards of £200 on a fair isle jumper, less than £20. Since budgets differ, you’ll find prices across the spectrum in this edit.
- Trusted brands: As always, I try to include brands I personally shop from, wear and trust. And if it isn’t a brand I’ve tried, it’s one that gets consistently positive, and verified, reviews from shoppers.
Why you should trust me
I shop for a living, and I can spot a classic, wardrobe staple a mile off – and when you throw celebs, royals and influencers loving a look, you know it’s something you need to write about. I love trends, don’t get me wrong, but I am a big fan of a fashion piece that’ll last the test of time and for me, fair isle jumpers are about as classic a winter item as they get. I’m always striving to bring the HELLO! reader the things that will work out affordable when you configure the cost per wear, and after buying a fair isle jumper myself a few years ago, I can confirm they do. There isn’t a December mine doesn’t take a few turns!
Shop the best fair isle jumpers for women
The multi-coloured knit style knit has been a long time favourite of the royals, from portraits to apres-ski parties, and the classic pattern has stood the test of time to become a classic winter piece that works from the ski lodge to the streets.
Fashion stylist and influencer Helen Canning rates the “timeless” trend: “Fair isle knitted jumpers have a timeless appeal that transcends fashion trends and generations, giving a homespun heritage feel that we go back to every winter. These often colourful sweaters give a nod to the festive aesthetic without going all-out in a Christmas jumper, which you may only wear once or twice a year.”
I’m all for wearing a fair isle jumper with jeans, but it’s this season’s must-have silver trousers I think they look incredible with, especially a charcoal or black fair isle knit. Taking it from the ski lodge to the streets is easy – one would be a more interesting stablemate to a leather skirt, sequin skirt or leather trousers too. Add a pair of OTT earrings or a padded headband and you’re party ready.
The high street has also swerved away from the more traditional fair isle sweater colours of white, nudes and browns to incorporate the pattern on punchy pinks, bold reds and greens, oranges and yellows while using the design on cardigans and zip-up knits too.
Royals and celebrities who love the look
We love it when Princess Kate wears something more casual, and like the festive fashion pro she is, a fair isle jumper is something she wears year upon year. Kate wore a Holland Cooper fair isle sweater in a surprise TV appearance, to read a story on CBeebies’ Bedtime Stories TV show and more recently, to promote a carol concert to air this month.
And she also has one from knitwear brand Brora, pictured above, that she falls back on for chilly royal engagements.
Not forgetting Princess Diana, a big fan of the traditional Scottish design. And on the other end of the spectrum, the ever-glam Jennifer Lopez styled a fair isle sweater with a flowing black maxi skirt. That’s a lesson in how to make one into eveningwear, right there.
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