Men, it's time to get a witty knit

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Colourful jumpers have long been consigned to fashion's doldrums – but they're back in style, says Lee Holmes

Until very recently, the mere mention of the words "novelty" and "sweater" to the fashion-savvy would conjure up images of an unwelcome Christmas gift from an eccentric great aunt, the not-so-sweetly loud and proud appearance of which was enough to make the whole family blanche.

But patterned knitwear need not be garish. Take, as a prime example, the much-loved Fair Isle knit that originated on a remote Shetland Isle (hence the name). In the 1930s, this was adopted by the future Edward VIII – later the eminently stylish Duke of Windsor – who saw the quirky garment as an integral part of his golfing uniform. In fact, it is safe to say that his Fair Isle sweater – along with equally countrified tweeds and plus fours – was the reason he became a sartorial role model from thereon in.

Paul McCartney certainly saw it that way. He too loved a Fair Isle knit, although admittedly in a more busy, 1960s-style psychedelic incarnation than that of his blue-blooded predecessor. Only in the early 1980s did Fair Isle fall out of favour. Vivid snowflake or leaping reindeer motifs were entirely at odds with the matt black and Memphis decade, and were considered cheesy enough to wear only with tongue firmly in cheek and preferably at a fondue party.

As any seasoned fashion follower will know, however, what goes around comes around and now the Fair Isle is the sweater to see and be seen in once more.

It all started, this time around at least, with Sarah Lund, the fictional detective from the Danish television series The Killing. With a bleak, Nordic landscape as backdrop, Lund's choice of eye-catching knitwear made a downbeat storyline almost bearable, not to mention its wearer a style icon overnight. Swedish company, Gudrun & Gudrun, the name behind the sweaters in question, was inundated with orders and is still enjoying a moment in the (winter) sun. For men, Junya Watanabe, French Connection and Margaret Howell have all designed suitably handsome variations on the theme this season.

But it isn't restricted to the Fair Isle either: Aztec and geometric designs are having their moment too. Burnished yellows and red Aztec knits can be found at Topman. Raf Simons takes a more pragmatic approach: his knitwear is monochrome, which some might argue is the most intelligent way to approach this trend, thus avoiding the type of fashion infamy that is normally the preserve of the children's TV presenter. Generally, motifs should be subtle and colours should be limited to just two or three.

Be mindful also of what you wear with your new knit. Tempting though it may be, steer well clear of winter's ubiquitous tartans, tweeds and corduroy at least on this occasion. Too literal a reinvention of the aforementioned aristo's wardrobe will bring the unfeasibly camp bumpkin over and above the country gent to mind. Instead, keep things simple and wear a patterned sweater with jeans, a white T-shirt and maybe a leather bomber jacket, should you be feeling a touch sporty.

Finally, there is always the striped knit to fall back on – Marc by Marc Jacobs' mohair knit is a master-class in how to do that – or bright but plain block-coloured jumpers. At the designer end of the scale, D&G has a knitted roll neck in brilliant orange, while more affordable cable or purl knits can be found at Cos and ASOS.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there