Clockwise from top left: Jayne Mansfield via The Nifty Fifties; Gina Lollobrigida via The Nifty Fifties; Retrospace; Lauren Bacall via Puppy Love.

When you hear the words “sweater girl,” you may well think of of Lana Turner, Jane Russell, and all the women in the picture above: the 1950s bombshell in a bullet bra, a femme fatale wrapped up in a deceptively cute, fuzzy package.


Nastassja Kinki in “Paris, Texas” (1984).

But there’s another kind of sweater girl too: there’s gamine Anna Karina in her baby-blue sweater and dancer’s tights; Marilyn Monroe, young and untroubled in stripes by the sea; and the ultimate wistful sweater babe, the beautiful, heartbroken Nastassja Kinski in Paris, Texas. Here we pay tribute to this second kind of sweater girl, the kind that we can all aspire to be, even if we’re not pneumatic super-vixens with wardrobes full of really complicated underwear.

Clockwise from top left: Gemma Ward shot by Paolo Roversi in Vogue Italia, December 2005; Petra Collins for Rookie; Meg Ryan by Petra Collins for The Ardorous; Hanneli

Mohair is my absolute favorite fabric. It’s the fuzziest of all the wools, it takes dyes really well so you can find it in all kinds of crazy acid brights and Easter-egg pastels, and it’s made from the hair of the Angora goat, and they look like this. Mohair sweaters were really popular in the ’50s and ’60s, so they’re pretty easy to find used. If you’re patient enough, you can find amazing examples at the thrift store, or if you have more money than time, vintage stores and Etsy are your best friends.

Lara Stone in Vogue, August 2010; Petra Collins for Rookie; Gisele Bundchen in i-D, August 2011; Amos Fricke Photography.

Super-bright knits can be hard to find secondhand, but they’re worth the dig. Look through the blankets at antique shops and flea markets—I’ve found amazing gigantic fuchsia and turquoise mohair scarves buried in trunks of blankets at the Brooklyn Flea market for less than $5. J.Crew and ASOS make really great sweaters in eyesore colors too.

Amber Valetta by Paolo Roversi in French Glamour, September 1994; Aleksandra McCormack on Hanneli; Lara Stone in Vogue, August 2012; Hanneli.

I’m currently obsessed with sweaters in these muted Smarties colors. Last week I saw Alexa Chung at MoMA wearing the baby-blue Alberta Ferretti coat worn by Hanneli Mustaparta above, and it was so gorgeously fluffy and cotton candy-colored that I wanted to reach out and pluck off a piece to munch on. Village Style and No Relation Vintage in New York have the greatest collection of ice-cream-colored vintage sweaters and cardigans, or try Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, and Topshop for sweaters in every color of the dreamy pastel rainbow.

Bonus sweaterspiration:

My boss; Alana Zimmer by Venitia Scott for Margaret Howell F/W 2010/11; Fancy Fine; Esme Wissels by Adriano Russo via Fashion Gone Rogue.