Wardrobe comfort food: the fisherman sweater

Jenni Kayne cotton fisherman sweater in "Canyon." Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Lately I’ve found myself gravitating toward clothes that not only are comfortable, but evoke a sense of ease, familiarity and calm. A fisherman sweater is one of those pieces with the kind of easy elegance that helps my outfits feel grounded.

For some a “fisherman” sweater means only the traditional Irish hand-knitted wool version. I’m using the generally accepted broader definition which includes crewneck or turtleneck pullovers with a cable knit, rib knit or otherwise textured appearance.

Above, after reading so many raves (some from friends) about Jenni Kayne fisherman sweaters, I decided to try this one in cotton. It’s spendy, yes, but really well-made from a soft but substantial cotton, and has a lovely fit and drape. (Now that our weather is finally cooling down, you’ll be seeing it soon.)

There’s also a cashmere version, which gets rave reviews.

L.L. Bean cotton fisherman tunic sweater. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This one is also cotton, with a more traditional pattern, a longer fit and curved hem. It’s also more budget-friendly, in a few colors, sizes XXS – XL.

Gap marled crewneck sweater in beige. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Another option in cotton, quite budget-friendly. This one’s offered in Misses, Tall and Petite sizes, and several colors.

Vineyard Vines textured fisherman sweater. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Here’s a cotton-wool blend, offered in sizes XXS-3X.

Everlane ribbed alpaca crew, blue. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

While not specifically labeled as a fisherman sweater, this one in ribbed alpaca lands in that style neighborhood. Sizes XXS-XL, and several colors including this pretty blue.

Madewell ribbed mock neck sweater in recycled cashmere. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Another fisherman-adjacent style, this ribbed pullover is made from recycled cashmere and wool. Three colors, sizes XX-Small to 3X.

What are the “comfort food” items in your wardrobe?

Stay in touch.

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28 Comments

  1. Louise
    October 19, 2020 / 4:04 am

    Are the sleeves on many of these sweaters as long as they appear on the model? Is this a trend or a “feature”?

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      October 19, 2020 / 6:23 am

      The sleeves on my sweater are not as long as on the model. They hit just at the bottom of my wrists. And I’m short! 😉

  2. Kay Curl
    October 19, 2020 / 4:28 am

    Why, oh why are the sleeves so long? My arms aren’t particularly short, but lately the sleeves of every sweater
    I try require a cuff. That makes wearing under a jacket difficult.

  3. Robyn
    October 19, 2020 / 4:31 am

    Hi, finding a cotton sweater is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Many times I’ve looked at JK but couldn’t find the right color, most choices are for a warmer palette, and justify the price. I did find a sweater at LL Bean. The black marble looks intriguing for my coloring, but most of the choices are for a warmer coloring. Here is the name of the sweater, Women’s Coastal Cotton Sweater, Pullover.

    • Lisa H.
      October 19, 2020 / 8:17 am

      Wow, great find! I can only wear cotton sweaters.

    • Candy
      October 19, 2020 / 10:35 am

      Hi — Susan included a cream colored cotton sweater from Gap, very reasonably priced, that is 100% cotton. I just ordered it. It’s the 3rd sweater down in the line-up, starting with the top brown one.

    • P T
      October 26, 2020 / 8:15 am

      Try Lands End. They have great cotton sweaters.

  4. Kelly
    October 19, 2020 / 5:16 am

    All of these sweaters are beautiful and definitely have me thinking of cooler weather. I’m not a big LL Bean shopper, but their sweaters are Fall comfort food for the soul. I bought 2 of their funnelneck cotton ragg sweaters. I sized up one size to get a roomier rather than fitted style. I’ve found funnelneck style sweaters to look best with a white or off white mock turtleneck tee under them. Without the mock turtleneck, I never feel a funnelneck lies quite right. Bean’s coastal cotton sweater that Robyn mentioned looks cute too.

  5. Kathie Briggs
    October 19, 2020 / 6:04 am

    Lovely sweaters in the post. Most of these are out of my price range but I always read the comments so thank you Robyn for the tip on the LL Bean Coastal Cotton Sweater. I don’t usually shop for myself there but I had a $10 coupon from purchasing for my husband. It was due to expire so I took a look at the sweater. The Saddle color is one of my best colors and I promptly ordered it. Love to ideas I get here.

    • Robyn
      October 19, 2020 / 7:50 am

      I’m not an LL Bean shopper either, but with basics being so hard to find I’ve bee looking for “Old School” options. My daughter who is 34 and a snappy dresser sent a link to a Pendleton sweater she was looking at. I had forgotten about Pendleton. Even at 34 she is having a hard time finding basics.

  6. Téa
    October 19, 2020 / 6:33 am

    The first one evoked a memory of my favorite sweaters I wore in college from FORENZA – do you remember that brand? My roommate and I were nuts over those…

    • Rita
      October 19, 2020 / 11:13 am

      What memories! I had several of those and if I remember correctly they also made a short sleeve version. And I remember mine (some, all?) came with shoulder pads, lol.

    • Robyn
      October 20, 2020 / 2:49 am

      My daughter, husband and I all have sweaters from Aran. We bought them years ago. They are lovely. Whenever I wear mine I get so many compliments.

    • Margaret
      October 20, 2020 / 9:18 am

      I have looked at that website many times, directed from various blogs, and what bothers me is that it does not say the sweaters are made in Ireland nor indeed where the sweaters are made even in the FAQ which asks that specific question. At those prices, to my way of understanding, they are very likely made in China. Workmanship coming out of China, and wool, can be excellent; the construct just bothers me. I have lived in Scotland and travelled a fair amount in that area and have bought similar sweaters. In my experience, no locally made, handknit sweater is $100. That’s just me.

      • Margaret
        October 20, 2020 / 9:30 am

        I can see the product pages say “Made in Ireland” and can only say I don’t know what that means: pieced? finished? I don’t know….

  7. Laura
    October 19, 2020 / 7:53 am

    Jenni Kayne sweaters, including one I purchased this fall, are well-made and super-soft but so boxy! Is the fisherman’s sweater also over-sized?

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      October 19, 2020 / 7:55 am

      It’s “relaxed.” Not terribly oversized. If you like a closer fit, I’d suggest sizing down. I tried two sizes, the XS and S. The XS was more fitted, but I liked the slouchier look of the S better.

  8. Lauren
    October 19, 2020 / 8:16 am

    LLBean and LandsEnd are very good have “basics” year after year. I am happy to see the sleeves a wee bit longer (hate have three quarter sleeves when they are supposed to be long). Both LLBean and LandsEnd offer Petites so if you want your sleeve in proportion you can order Petites. Size will as always be a trial and error thing because it is not a “constant” throughout the clothing industry…..but their size guides and measurements are helpful

  9. Nancy MK
    October 19, 2020 / 8:33 am

    My Emotional Support sweater is a chunky oversized turtleneck in cloudy blue from Celtic & Co., as soothing as a glass of wine or cup of hot tea. Few of my sweaters are challenging as upposed to comforting but ES is the best. For most sweaters I find that fine quality at a good price is available on ebay – e.g., an Armani Black Label bleaded black cashmere for under $100.00. It’s fun to see the suggestions here.

  10. October 19, 2020 / 8:56 am

    I love my Jenni Kayne cashmere fisherman’s sweater. I’ve been thinking about a cotton one too:).

  11. Lyn
    October 19, 2020 / 12:09 pm

    As a longtime knitter, I cannot accept your broad definition of “fisherman knit sweater.” I have knit at least a dozen wool fisherman knit sweaters with traditional patterns, and there is an art and history behind them. I’m having enough trouble allowing cotton sweaters to merit the name. But there I draw the line. No cables, no traditional patterns, no “fisherman.” Ribbing is not enough. (Sorry, you hit a sore spot.)

    • Robyn
      October 20, 2020 / 2:53 am

      Would the JK sweater be more of a shaker knit?

  12. Gloria
    October 19, 2020 / 2:28 pm

    Hi!
    Just wanted to say thank you for recommending internet series to watch as I am always looking for something since this pandemic situation has had me in front of the TV much more than normal!

    I just watched three segments of the Emily in Paris series, and I am entranced by the beauty of Paris, the gorgeous outfits ( for a young person) and (where does she get her money?)
    I wish my granddaughters could have the wonderful experiences that Emily is having. I wish I could have had them!!!
    Anyway, it is light hearted and does show how we Americans think differently, but we can all learn from each other.

    Please, more suggestions from everyone!

  13. Janet D.
    October 19, 2020 / 4:37 pm

    My closet “comfort food”: old denim blue jeans, worn soft & faded. As for fisherman knits, I have three, all traditional ivory with tons of cabling, intricate designs & crew-necks — like Lyn, I don’t think anything else merits the name. I never wear ivory or cream except for these 3 sweaters. They work beautifully here on the coast where we get a lot of fog, mist & drizzle, which is the climate they were originally designed for when they were utilitarian & not “fashion”. I have a gorgeous red one, too, but I think of it as a “cable knit”, not a “fisherman knit”, because of the colour, even though it’s virtually identical in design. I find them in thrift shops & they’re pricy even there. My last one was a men’s size which is quite sloppy on me but I love wearing it with jeans, high boots & a turtleneck tee on chilly wet days when I don’t want to wear a coat — the knit on a real FM knit is so tight a light rain will just run off it & the wind can’t get through it.

  14. Lisa
    October 20, 2020 / 7:23 am

    Beautiful sweaters. I once ordered a Jenni Kayne but sent it back as crew neck sweaters are not my friend. I really need to look for boat neck or v neck sweaters. I have a short neck and am finding that those necklines are much more flattering especially with the age related decreased chin line…. If anyone runs across a V neck cotton or cashmere sweater they can recommend I’d love to hear from you!

  15. Sf-dre
    October 20, 2020 / 8:49 pm

    I own an Aran cardigan in blue that goes with anything when it gets chilly and want one in ivory. Am a big fan of Bean’s Pima cotton tees and own several in various colors.

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