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An Object Of Desire – The Fisherman’s Sweater

Those of you who follow my Pinterest wanderings may have noted a certain “It” item. Early in the year I began to hear a chant of desire, as one does for these things, “Fisherman’s sweater, fisherman’s sweater, fisherman’s sweater.”

A little odd, but apparently I was not alone. Gwyneth has spoken. Via Pinterest and Daily Crush.

Gwyneth In Fisherman's Sweater

We don’t have to go all the way to La Paltrow to wear a fisherman’s sweater. We can start with tried and true. This cable knit from L.L. Bean gets great reviews. And it’s cotton, meaning even those in California can wear it in and out of the house.

LL Bean.278178_0_44

Or we can borrow from the boys. like Keri Russell. Enhanced by boyfriend jeans showing the ankle, and oxfords. Via the epitome of quiet.

Keri Russell in Fisherman's Sweater

Hanna Andersson sometimes has great versions for boys and men one could pilfer. Here are a few more pages in the guidebook to Gwyneth territory.

Finally, for those watching expanses of white slightly puffy cables scroll by, and wondering who in their right mind wants to add volume to their midsection, we’ll always have scarves. Wrap a soft one from Brooks Brothers around your neck a few times. Don the rest of your usual gear and scamper out the door, cabled and happy. Don’t forget to wave to Gwyneth as you pass. Keri, of course, would wave at you first.

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40 Responses

  1. I wonder if you could help me with a little problem that presented itself in the last few days for me. My mother (55 years old) is coming to the States for the first time ever. I have a strong suspicion that her wardrobe would be very insufficient for the Connecticut weather and the places I am planning to take her to in order to show her some of the country. What brands should I look for and what would be appropriate for places that suggest “business casual” attire?

    1. @Kat,

      JJill should have things that are 50+ figure friendly with kind of a loose/Eileen Fisher-vibe that’s affordable.

      LLBean if you’ll be doing the New England matron circuit and want more classic items.

      Macy’s for a bit of everything at moderate prices.

      I’ve never met anyone in New England who didn’t like to shop at T.J.Maxx. If she’s easily sticker shocked I’d go there and let her mix/match a few things.

  2. I can’t believe I’ve actually made one of those. Never again. I’ll gladly take the scarf and throw it “insouciantly” around my shoulders. I want to loose weight not gain it. But they all look pretty cool.

  3. Even those chubby among us find it hard to resister the sheer warmth of a fisherman sweater, especially in November in DC. I’ve been pining over that LL Bean one for ages.

  4. I bought an Irish fisherman’s sweater at a church jumble sale in Cardiff for about 50p. It’s huge and beautifully made, I am sure by someone’s Irish gran. It’s one of my favourite things because it’s so classic.

  5. I have a mans LL Bean fisherman sweater ( don’t forget to size down) that I love. Often the ones in the men’s department are better looking than the women’s. Sturdy gals don’t fear buying men’s clothing. Besides, what’s more feminine than wearing a smaller size?

  6. Not just any fisherman’s sweater though. You are going for cream, just like me. Earlier this season I had a craving for a cream sweater. I didn’t get a fisherman’s, just a basic pullover from Madewell. But man do I like it. It goes with just about all of my skirts and pants.

  7. This is a good one, it brings back memories of my parents bringing back sweaters from Ireland. I wish I had save more of them, they weren’t that far removed in design from the Marc Jacobs.

  8. I like that LL Bean sweater too. It’s got the cables. It looks a little short compared to the other options, maybe they have something similar in Men’s that would be longer?

  9. I had a fisherman knit sweater from Ireland in my teens. Loved it.
    I have a Ralph Lauren cream fisherman style scarf very much like the Barney’s one shown here….Which sweater will you choose?

  10. Love the fisherman’s sweater! It’s been too long since I have had one in my closet. Living in Florida I rarely have a need for a heavier sweater, but a cotton one would be perfect.

  11. I’m with the contingent who is wondering why add layers to the mid-section since menopause has done it for me. I have a cable knit in cashmere which I never wear now because it adds bulk where I don’t need it. The only sweater in my retirement price range is the LL Bean, which doesn’t come in my size. They do have a plus-size version that buttons in front. I wouldn’t buy it in cream. Maybe in cobalt? Black?

  12. You mean I can get out the one I bought in Scotland 40 years ago?
    It’s likely too warm for San Diego, but possible for whichever retirement locale we choose.

  13. My grandmother used to knit these for us, and it is my highest knitting ambition to knit one someday. The wool is so expensive and the project is so time consuming, it might actually be cheaper to buy one, though.

  14. When I was in high school (late ’60s in Mill Valley, CA), all the tall, thin It Girls wore oversized fisherman’s sweaters borrowed from their fathers/brothers, etc.They wore them with bell bottom jeans from the surplus store and water buffalo sandals from Cost Plus. I wanted one of those sweaters desperately despite the fact that I was curvy with a sizeable chest. Never did get one though, because, besides being exceptionally unflattering to my figure, they were heavy, itchy, and smelled like sheep. I love the scarf you found, but too pricey for me. I’ll keep my eyes open for a knockoff!

    1. @Anne, I HAD to buy one in Covent Garden 1986 and yes, it was ” besides being exceptionally unflattering to my figure, they were heavy, itchy, and smelled like sheep.” ;-))

  15. Love the one GP is wearing ~ it’s by Celine and sold out in a flash last year? I did buy one this year, but have yet to wear it as it’s still warm in LA. It probably was a purchase that was a mistake considering the climate I live in :(

  16. Fishermans sweaters are a must! I wear mine mostly with straight legged jeans. Judith/Ida is right – they are “fat makers” which is why I refuse to look in a mirror when I wear mine, just enjoy the comfort and warmth!

  17. Have always worn them and loved them over the years as they were a staple of the Irish American wardrobe. : ) Found a great cotton one with 3/4 sleeves at Talbots just last year.

  18. I had one, bought in Dublin ca. 1975, the most beautifully-knit sea-green sweater… it made me look like a giant, busy, ambulatory piece of macram√©. I gave it to a truly stick-thin friend, who looked adorable. Even down looks better on me!

    Still have my Dad’s, bought on the same trip. I’m saving it till one of my sons realizes how cool it is.

  19. The scarf (or the cardi-version of a fisherman knit) sounds just about right!

    And why not knit one at the same time – twice the fun!

  20. I want that scarf!

    I knit an Aran when I was in high school. I’ve bought a couple others at thrift stores and I rarely wear any of them, even though I really love them. I think they are too thick for layering, and are not really windproof to wear on their own except for very occasionally.

  21. I jumped on this trend too and only wish that I had saved the one I had in the 70’s. This time around I found mine at TJMAXX for $34.00 by Jones New York. It is longer version of the cotton the L.L. Bean which fits my 5’11” frame. The extra length bypasses the midsection for a slim look.

  22. Sadly, these don’t look good on the large-of-chest women like me. I do have an oversized green Aran cardigan that I wear as a coat, and I love it.

    The scarf is a cool option.

  23. Just bought a couple of fisherman knit sweaters (cardigan versions) made in Ireland of 100% merino wool at TJMaxx two weeks ago! One is cream and has a swing coat silhouette and the other is charcoal with a zipper front and mock-turtle/stand up collar. Love them both with skinny pants and a turtleneck jersey underneath. Soft and not itchy at all :)

  24. A word of caution about the L.L. Bean fisherman sweater: I bought a medium (woman’s) last year and was very disappointed with it. The color was a much murkier tan/beige than it appears in the picture above. It was shorter than I ideally like to begin with but rode up as I wore it during the day (I’m 5’7″ and weigh 135 lbs.) — tugging it down repeatedly was just plain annoying. The arms were a little tight with a thin cotton blouse underneath, and the fabric was thickish, which made me also feel thickish. It did machine wash well, and I’m sure a lucky shopper at Goodwill is enjoying it this year. BTW, I have a gorgeous fisherman sweater knitted with love and Aran wool by my mother, but sometimes I prefer not to deal with the hassle of hand washing it. Just my two cents…

  25. Those do look rather appealing on a cool misty grey autumn day. (But I can’t be doing with adding bulk). I have a part-mohair white sweater which I fondly hope adds a touch of Bridgette Bardot to my look. Only problem is, even with cold hand washing, it seems to have gone irretrievably grey-ish.

  26. About 20 years ago, a gal pal who’s a flight attendant was taking international routes for awhile and I begged her to bring me a fisherman’s cardigan from Ireland to replace my now too small college crew neck version. I still get to wear it on freezing cold mornings in Florida. It also accompanies me on visits to Northern climes in winter as a basic component of my wardrobe as its creamy ivory color is such a perfect topper for the wide wale corduroy pants, leggings & woolen skirts I also pack to wear with tights to accompany it. I think the great Irish sweater is as essential an element to a preppy wardrobe as a navy blazer.

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