The Frumpy Sweater and The Fashionable Feminista


Fashion has a way of making relatively ugly staples irresistibly alluring, and perhaps the most puzzling is the oversized, frumpy sweater. Stumbling upon these in numbers – both in vintage shops and modern stores – one might begin to wonder: How can something so unfitted, baggy, and knitted make its way not only into my wardrobe, but onto the catwalk and into virtually every fashion store around the world? How did the frumpy sweater do it?

The History Of Oversized Fashion

Oversized fashion, and the large on top, skinny on the bottom silhouette that the oversized sweater creates, has to be saying something more, doesn’t it? If it weren’t, what would be the point of the unnecessary, wasted fabric that does nothing other than perhaps provide additional warmth and hide the female figure?

We first saw oversized fashion emerge – and with great boldness – in the 1920s after World War I. Prior to this period, women’s fashions consisted of hobble skirts and unimaginably tight corsets; and after the war, came a period of largely oversized, shapeless women’s fashions. Coco Chanel herself contributed largely to this era of oversized fashions with her loose-fitting two-piece dresses. Dropped waist lines became another hit during this time that continued this trend of figure-hiding garments, and together these oversized and loose-fitting trends brought with it, for likely the first time in history, an air of masculinity, freedom, and comfort to women.

This masculinity went along just well with the short haircuts and the emphasis on flattened chests in the freshly “boyish” silhouettes created by the modernity of women’s fashion.

The Frumpy Sweater Is Back

The boyfriend sweater, oversized sweater, frumpy sweater – or whatever you’d like to refer to it as – is back. Coming back into trend after last being seen so popular in the 1980s, it’s no wonder as to why. And when it comes to reviving vintage pieces, there’s likely no easier way to do it than with an 80’s oversized sweater.

Why? Well, they’ve changed very little. Though you may want to consider removing the shoulder pads that you will undoubtedly find in your 80s rendition of the modern, frumpy sweater, little else should be required to streamline these pieces back into your wardrobe, and start pairing them with your modern styles.

Typically, oversized sweaters are fitted at the shoulders but relatively unfitted everywhere else. Generally reaching well below the hips, the most common frumpy sweater hides the bum, hips, and upper thighs, making it so irresistibly comfortable and hard to avoid pairing with a stretchy pair of tights. Some are pullover knits, while popular 80s style consisted of V-necklines that led to a button up front, and perhaps some pockets, too. Wools were popular then, and are still trendy today. The sleeves will generally be baggy too, with longer-reaching loose cuffs to warm the hands.

In the cold winter months, sometimes a girl just wants to be comfortable and warm. And if she can achieve that while paying tribute to the history of women’s oversized fashions, and what it truly means as a fashion statement, why not do so with her mom’s favorite 80s frumpy sweater?

Be a fashionable feminista, and revive your frumpy sweaters!



FashionAlexa Suter