I have a history with the Fair Isle sweater: it involves a short-lived obsession my freshman year in college and my beautiful and devoted mother – you may remember that I shared it with you in a podcast with my mom on TFIO. At that time, I had at least four Fair Isle sweaters in my possession (thanks to my mom), only to lose them by the end of that freshman year. I have no recollection where they went but the memory of them has lingered, almost as if I was waiting, anticipating owning another one sometime in my life. Here it is, 30 years later – what?! – and I have finally found a Fair Isle sweater again! It is Italian-designer Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, and more sophisticated than my college sweaters – but a Fair Isle sweater just the same. I went back to school on this snowy day, to recapture that moment so many years ago and to finally give this fashion story a happy ending!
I saw many changes in my son, Eric, when he came home for Thanksgiving. His first year at college is bringing great signs of independence and a new sense of self and self expression. But the one change that caught my eye was his new-found sense of style. This once oh-so-casual-dresser now loves wearing khakis and flannel shirts – keeping it neat and simple. Just a few years ago I couldn’t beg him to dress in khakis, except for holiday occasions and now he tells me that he prefers this way of dressing.
The interesting part in this fashion equation is that I am not a part of it. This all evolved without me. Left on his own, Eric has found his style (style of the moment, at least) without any interference or participation on my part. That is because how we choose to dress belongs to us. When left alone we learn what we like and don’t like and what feels best. And college is the perfect time to figure that out. As a grownup, I seem to recall that I found my own style during the college years. As a parent, I am blown away by the many transitions and moments of letting go that are weaving in and out of my life. As a lover of fashion, I am moved by the reminder that clothes are personal and our singular stamp of identification.
My second podcast recording with my mom, Claire, brings me back to the days as an insecure college freshman. My school was the ultimate in prep; a style that was unfamiliar to me. Here I was, having grown up trusting my sense of fashion, for the first time feeling unsure and looking to those around me to define my look. My first school break, I told my mom that I needed something called a Fair Isle Sweater and my darling mother treated me to not one or two, but several, and in different colors. By the end of my freshman year these lovely sweaters were gone from my wardrobe as I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin and see my style return (but still … how I wish I had at least of these sweaters with me now!!!). Most important, I was left with a feeling of love and gratitude for my mother that I will never forget for as long as I live.
Here is that conversation with Claire as we talk about Fair Isle Sweaters and growing up …