Frank: I can knit a sweater!
I can fill it better!
Tight sweaters are often worn by ladies as a form of Fanservice
A lot of the appeal is that they just outline the figure
(why "sweater puppies" is a nickname for a shapely chest) while barely actually showing anything. That makes wearing a tight sweater some of the most tasteful and acceptable fanservice and Fetish Fuel
around (not to mention one of the few of the latter actually acknowledged in mainstream fiction
). In the days of The Hays Code
, once those sweaters caught on, they were almost up there with the heart-shaped neckline as a way of Getting Crap Past the Radar
. Actresses who embraced this look were known as sweater girls
, hence the trope name.
Not that a sweater can never
be tacky. It's just if ladies want to look sexy, and the choice is between a halter top or an angora sweater, the latter is far less likely to have the wearer say, "Just because I'm wearing these clothes doesn't make me a prostitute!" It's more the "I'm way out of your league," kind of sexy. Particularly fuzzy sweaters can emphasize this by subtly echoing the glamour of a fur coat
A special note as there is cultural differences, in Asia countries, school girls(and even boys) wear a sweater to cover up their developing figure, especially when they are growning to be more mature and starting to show differences in their bodies. So it is not uncommon to see school girls and boys wear sweaters when it is 30 degrees Celsius or higher. This has nothing to do with sexiness, and the wearers actually want the opposite. It is the authors that draw them to be much more revealing(as fanservice, obviously), but the hidden meaning is still cultural. Most of the Anime and Manga examples are actually girls that are more introvert, traditional and shy.
Also commonly worn by the Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl
Compare Fur Bikini
, Happy Holidays Dress
, Sexy Santa Dress
, Homemade Sweater From Hell
, Form-Fitting Wardrobe
open/close all folders
- Used quite often in ads, as a milder form of Sex Sells.
Anime and Manga
- The girls of Archie Comics are prone to wearing the occasional tight sweater, especially Veronica.
- At the end of TRON, Lora wore a white angora sweater, seen in the picture above.
- In Lord Love A Duck, Barbara Ann (Tuesday Weld) wants sweaters so that she'll fit in with the 'in' crowd, and goes shopping for them with her father. The scene with her trying on the sweaters in front of him is rather disturbing.
- Kristen Bell's character in Fanboys refers to her breasts as "Sweater yams".
- As Corey in Empire Records, Liv Tyler wears a tight blue cropped sweater, which is featured prominently◊ on the poster.
- Denise (Denise Darcel), the Frenchwoman whom the men of the 327th bivouac with in Battleground, puts some strain on her sweaters. This is played for a gag when Denise is busily slicing a loaf of bread for the men, knife repeatedly coming close to her prominent bosom, while Pfc. Holley winces nervously.
- Lana Turner in a bunch of movies starting with They Won't Forget. She was even called the Sweater Girl, which makes her the Trope Namer.
- In Walk the Line, Johnny Cash is quickly seduced backstage by a Sweater Girl Groupie.
- Reese Witherspoon
- Ed Wood pulls off a Wholesome Crossdresser version in his film Glen or Glenda?, which is cheerfully reprised by Johnny Depp in the Biopic Ed Wood.
- One of the first uses of the new powers gained in Zapped was to make a girl's pink sweater pop open to reveal her (also pink) bra underneath.
- Susan Abbott wears a purple fuzzy sweater in Anchors Aweigh.
- Angie Dickinson wears the standard tight sweater with pointy bra in Sex Comedy (and very Black Comedy) Pretty Maids All In A Row. The sexually frustrated student who's the protagonist of the movie can't stop staring at her breasts, and she manages to twice accidentally hit him in the face with her breasts.
- Sonja Henie was one of the earliest in her films.
- Janet Leigh was dressed this way in several films, including Holiday Affair and The Manchurian Candidate. A biography of her Holiday Affair co-star Robert Mitchum revealed that Holiday Affair producer Howard Hughes, who was notorious for his obsession with breasts and his predatory habits with young starlets, forced Leigh to wear an absurdly tight sweater after she rejected his advances.
- Kim Novak, playing Judy Norton, is dressed this way when she meets James Stewart in Vertigo. This serves to contrast Judy's earthy sexuality with Madeline Elster (also played by Novak), the icy blonde that Stewart became obsessed with before her death.
- In Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., Laura Danker, the most physically mature girl in Margaret's class, wears a sweater and gets harassed. Freddie Barnett a.k.a. the Lobster asks Margaret why she doesn't look like that in a sweater, which Margaret does not think is funny.
- Neighbor girl Lisa Hoober in Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Judy Blume's subsequent novel.
- In William Goldman's Magic, the narrator flashbacks about seeing his love interest in a sweater and being aroused for the first time in his life.
- The original book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying reads:
"It must be remembered that the well-bred girl is always fully clothed in the office. The broken shoulder strap, the deeply split skirt
, and the bare midriff
are de trop
in most businesses. The bright girl soon learns that these devices are not only in bad taste, but are not necessary.
"It is not skin area but contour that counts.
"A few simple experiments with sweaters, jerseys, and a slightly smaller dress size will bring pleasing and surprising results. One young lady who made a careful study of contour planning found that results were little short of breath-taking."
- The seventh book in The Dresden Files introduces Sheila, an assistant at an antique book store, and one of the first things Harry Dresden notices is how well she fills out a sweater. Though it probably helped that she was a construct built by a fallen angel Lasciel who chose a form that Harry would find ultimately appealing.
- In Piers Anthony Mode Series Colleen uses a too small sweater to convince the 'mob boss' to give her an appointment to make a deal.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 3 Willow Rosenberg.
Vamp Willow (looking Willow over): Well, look at me. I'm all fuzzy.
- Midge Pinciotti of That '70s Show is introduced to us in the first episode through the eyes of Eric clad in a sweater and quite... jiggly.
Fez: Oh, good God, man, what a marvelous set of kittens. Remember that sweater?
Kelso: Oh. Remember the other sweater?
Eric: Yeah. Remember that time she ran up to us in a sweater?
Hyde: Remember the week she took up jump rope? In a sweater?
This is followed by a montage of said sweaters.
- Later in the same episode, after deciding they want to want to chase older women, Fez and Kelso decide that Kitty is hot and maybe they should buy her a sweater.
- Jennifer Marlowe of WKRP in Cincinnati wore a few sweaters, including a pink sweater dress.
- Joanna Loudon in Newhart (played by Mary Frann) wore sweaters all the time, to the point where in the All Just a Dream finale, Bob tells Emily she should wear more sweaters.
- Sara Rush (played by Lydia Cornell) in Too Close for Comfort was the mistress of the tight sweater.
- In The Drew Carey Show, Oswald's mom (played by Adrienne Barbeau◊) remembers how when she used to hug other boys, they tended to breathe faster. Drew admits it was her tight angora sweater, with the plunging neckline.
- Millennium. A female friend of Katherine Black mentions that she was the "favourite student" of (male lecturer at college). Katherine replies: "I wore tight sweaters."
- Christina Hendricks' character Joan Holloway on Mad Men deploys sweaters coupled with a variety of form-fitting but tasteful business skirts to devastating effect.
- Once she tells a cleavage-flaunting new secretary to button up, saying that less is more if you know what you're doing. Said secretary ends up getting company partner Roger Sterling, Joan's former lover, to leave his wife for her, which says something about Roger's tastes.
- Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) tends to wear these a lot on Glee. The show even lampshades it.
Jacob: Get those sweater puppies out of their cashmere cage!
- The girls of Charmed like wearing sweaters. In one episode, Phoebe wore a white sweater with fur-trimmed sleeves.
- Jack was often distracted by sweater girls on Three's Company, resulting in Freudian Slips on several occasions: "You need to separate the yolk from the sweater." "I just came to button up my coffee."
- Spooks: In "Spiders", Zoe needs to get close to a particular target.
Tom: The kids' lives are in danger. (beat) So, wear a tight sweater tomorrow.
Tom: I've been watching him all day. He obviously fancies you. We need to build up on that connection.
Zoe: (sarcastically) Any particular sweater in mind?
Tom AND Danny, simultaneously: The blue one.
- In an episode of Happy Days Richie, Potsie, and Ralph break into another student's college dorm to get back an incriminating photo he took of Richie; they discover a nudist camp magazine and get Distracted by the Sexy.
- Annie in Community has a wardrobe that appears to mostly consist of cardigans.
- Donna and Adrienne in NYPD Blue often wear tight sweaters. Diane usually wears skin-tight T-shirts for the same effect.
- One episode of Growing Pains had teenage horndog Ben excited for his class field trip to the planetarium, which he intended to spend "picking fuzzballs off of Sasha Sorecki's sweater."
- Inverted on Will and Grace: Will's been deceived into thinking he's going to be a Barney's model, and explains to Jack's boss that his broad shoulders and slim waist (IIRC) are perfect for sweater modeling.
- One of Frasier's girlfriends was said to really fill out a mohair sweater in high school (specifically, he said the sweater in question was tighter on her than the goat.)
- The Onion had a headline in its faux-historical archive Our Dumb Century about the "Growing Bombshell gap between the US and Russia." The picture was Jayne Mansfield in a tight sweater.
- The rhyme many of us learn as tweens: "We must, we must, we must increase our bust. The bigger the better, the tighter the sweater, the boys depend on us!"
- The knitting book Big Girl Knits has sections on short-row shaping and how to wear a neckline, to enhance one's assets. A larger-busted woman should wear V-necks, because a higher neckline gives the impression of one large lump.
- The number "Anything You Can Do" from the musical Annie Get Your Gun:
Frank: I can knit a sweater.
Annie: I can fill it better.
- One song in The Full Monty has the men objectifying women before realizing to their horror that they will soon be on the receiving end, and Jerry has this kind of girl in mind.
Jerry: They gotta be C or D or better / they got to pose a threat to the sweater!
- Marigold Coneybear
Chip: Hey, Leaf, is that your sister in the fourth row wearing the fuzzy sweater?