I have a theory that sweaters are some of the hardest-working garments in fashion, and because of that, they take really long vacations.
They were very industrious during the 1920s and 30s thanks to Coco Chanel’s belted jersey innovations which made knitwear “fashionable” for the first time. Once the statement sweater was born, the Prince of Wales’s iconic Fair-Isle pullover and Elsa Schiaparelli’s famous knits with geometric motifs and trompe l’oeil bows. nurtured it into adolescence.
In the 40s and 50s, they hit snooze on their alarms, which resulted in two decades of sleepy knitwear to which I attribute the “sweater girl” phenomenon (an aesthetic popularized by Hollywood actresses like Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfield and Jane Russell, who wore cone-shaped bras under tight sweaters because they needed to do SOMETHING aesthetically exciting, or so I like to speculate).
When the 70s and 80s rolled around, they came back with a vengeance, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, looking very refreshed after twenty-odd years sipping piña coladas. British designers such as Patricia Roberts and Joseph went HAM with multiple colors, graphic patterns and intricate stitching. French Designer Sonia Rykiel was crowned “Queen of Knits” by Women’s Wear Daily.
Then came the early aughts, and knitwear went back to Tulum. Justin Timberlake made do with acrylic ecru ribbed turtlenecks, and the rest of us donned Juicy velour zip-up hoodies. It wasn’t the same.
After a nice long break, they started trickling back circa 2012. I am personally thrilled to be living in the age of the statement knit once again, heralded in large part by Gucci and Prada’s maximalist creations. There are so many options to choose from: chunky, colorful, frilled, striped, collared, chevron, waffle, sheer, turtleneck…the list goes on. Sweaters are so much fun right now they’re capable of doing the work of an entire outfit, so I thought: Why not give them that chance?
The answer to that apparently non-rhetorical question manifested in the form of a market report on my favorite sweaters floating around the internet right now, all of which you can gaze at in the slideshow above. We shot them pre-pants, in powder rooms, in all their solo glory. I figured they deserved some pampering, if only to stave off their next vacation a little longer.
Photos by Edith Young. Modeled by Juliet Johnstone.