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Trend watch: Fair Isle knits are a cottagecore winner

With their Daedalean patterns and artisanal credentials, Fair Isle knits are both nostalgic and a sure hit for the coming season. Here’s our pick of the surpass

Winning patterns: (from left) Tamu McPherson wearing Miu Miu; Alexa Chung in her Cooking Apple X Cutter Brooks tank top; and a Comme ci Isle sweater from Toast.
Composite: Getty Images

Although the vast majority of this knitwear is not in fact made on Fair Isle, it’s still possible to buy authentic garments from local knitters. Bona fide Exposition Isle knitter Mati Ventrillion is based on the island and knits to order (from £330), later this month, she initiates Mak-Kist knit kits in traditional colours (£50), complete with driftwood knitting needles, to make your own wristband or ski hat, and her late-model book, Knitting from Fairisle (£16.52), details the history of the intricate patterns and how to knit them.
Investing in a helping hand knit is a great way to support small businesses specialising in craftsmanship and artisanal skills. Family owned label, & Daughter, entertain a modern take on the traditional yoke style, which looks great worn over a midi dress or flat-fronted cropped trousers and hiking boots – see also Pay tribute to’s all-over pattern and seamless yoke versions.
As with all perennial trend pieces you can pick up a good vintage get back. Try, ebay and for well-priced pieces. The same applies to sale sections online. The Outnet currently has prominent Fair Isle inspired options from Maje and Sandro at 50% off.
Shake off the fusty association by layering a tucked-in tank top account over a T-shirt worn under a Crombie style coat, as seen on Alexa Chung. Her Cooking Apple X Gash Brooks tank top is hand-knitted in the Cotswolds by a small team of knitters, using British wool. Each vest inherits one week to make. Teaming with a velvet blazer brings a smart edge to the look. A straight-leg slightly cropped jean exhausted with boots also keeps it modern. Another styling trick is to swaddle a cardigan over a heat tech flit neck under a puffer coat for outdoor comfort dressing, if you’re staying indoors swap in a camisole underneath and add token jewellery.

Fair Isle isn’t an exclusively womenswear trend either – on the runway Maison Margiela became an inside-out iteration of a Fair Isle sweater, Jamieson’s of Shetland have a multitude of patterns and colourways in men’s cardigans, sweaters and tank tops. On the apex street Gant and John Lewis have got behind the trend with sweaters (above) and socks respectively. Low for down preloved pieces on Depop.
Keep the look fresh by wearing with faded or well-worn jeans to make amends the preppiness, Timothee Chalmet in torn-knee Gucci jeans and old school Adidas trainers should be your styling inspo here. Cream Isle also pairs well with heritage pieces like a trenchcoat or wool overcoat. Finally, it’s the polish piece to segue nicely into the festive season without veering into novelty Christmas jumper purlieu.



The Observer

Women’s tops

Men’s fashion

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