October has finally arrived! Not too many fashion items signal fall quite like a fisherman sweater. I love that these intricate sweaters are historic, comfortable, fashionable, and of course, perfect for layering. Today I am diving into the history of fisherman sweaters, how I plan to style them this fall, and of course, spotlighting all of my favorites from the most classic pieces to the most modern interpretations. Each fall/winter season many of my favorite heritage brands offer more traditional fisherman sweaters in their assortments, but this season, the more unexpected versions that are adaptations of the originals have me more excited than ever!

History of The Fisherman Sweater

The Fisherman’s Sweater was originally created in the late 1800’s in Aran, a cluster of islands off the west coast of Ireland. These sweaters were hand-knit by artisans in the local community and were made of untreated wool – which retained some of the lanolin from sheep. This natural element provided some protection from the harsh elements of the sea. Fun fact – if you can trace your family name back to Ireland, you may find a specific stitch pattern that identifies your clan. Check out this page to see more of the beautiful clan knits.

Over the years the definition of what a true fisherman sweater is has evolved, but typically designers and brands identify a fisherman sweater as a thick knit sweater with a detailed cable-like pattern.

How I Plan on Styling Fisherman Sweaters This Fall

Okay, step one in styling a fisherman’s sweater is answering a simple question. Is it a classic and slightly oversized fisherman’s sweater? Or, is it a more modern interpretation that can leave more to the styling imagination. Let’s dive into each scenario!

With a more classic fisherman’s sweater, be it a crew neck or roll neck style, I always opt for a more oversized fit. To me, this maximizes their comfort and plays into the historical menswear element of the style. The bigger the better! Since this type of sweater is more voluminous, I’ll go the opposite way with my bottoms. Usually I will gravitate towards a slim pant, classic cord, or straight leg denim style. For footwear, I’ll opt to pair with a chunky loafer or a casual sneaker. If it is truly frigid I will layer a turtleneck under or even throw on an oversized topper.

For the more modern interpretations of a fisherman’s sweater, your styling choices are much more broad. For example, with the shrunken and cropped styles I have seen, I would layer with a button down and pair back to a mini skirt and pumps and top off with fun jewels. How about a black or even a coated black interpretation? With these I may size down and plan for a chic night out look, paired with wide leg leather pants and lug sole loafers. Or what about an adorable fisherman cardigan? Totally chic back to a maxi skirt and pearls.

A Note on Color

Typically, fisherman’s sweaters are available in classic cream colors or natural colors like a stone or light gray, which makes them so easy to style to nearly any seasonal style. But, if you are looking to switch it up and go for color, there are some fun updated options out there for you to consider. In particular, I’m loving this speckled sunflower knit interpretation that features a chunky rib-knit collar. This oversized cherry red version that holds a hint of cashmere is undeniably a cozy fall investment piece. Or, what about this cotton puff sleeved cropped take that comes in a beautiful orchid purple? Of course, these aren’t your classic fisherman sweaters, but the inspiration is clearly there!

More of My Favorite Unexpected Fisherman Sweater Finds for Fall…