Sweater Girls: When A Formerly Sexist Trend Is Transformed By Time

The sweater is the fashion world's version of oatmeal. It's hearty and good for you, and able to be dressed up (or down) into whatever style you like. But sexy? Meh — the common interpretation of women who wear sweaters might be everything but. But that hasn't always been the case. Tight, body-hugging knits were a fashion trend during the Golden Age of Hollywood, popping up in the wardrobe departments of many film sets to be worn by women, for the pleasure of men. It was during that time that the term “The Sweater Girl” was coined, and used in reference to ’50s bombshells like Lana Turner, Jane Russell, and Marilyn Monroe, who accentuated their hourglass figures by famously wearing bullet-shaped bras underneath their body-hugging knits.
But through these women and their outfits truly defined a time, the legacy of the Sweater Girl has endured, changed directions, dropped its sexist past, and has ultimately been used to describe those insouciant, self-possessed women who chose comfort over appearing cultivated, and are 1,000% more alluring because of it.
For every girl-next-door pinup, there was a bad-girl gang on the silver screen wearing tight sweaters accessorized with switchblades. In the ’80s and ’90s, there were television teen queens rocking oversize knits in wild, colorful patterns. These days, what defines a Sweater Girl has evolved, and we are now witness to a mishmash of all of the above, from designers who embrace minimalist chic to a performer with a particular Coogi obsession. Today. we pay tribute to 30 Sweater Girls who embraced knitwear like a form of fashion religion.

More from Trends

R29 Original Series