A Brief History of the Twinset

Twin set voor damesphoto from Breibeest (by Libelle’s Breiboek lente-zomer 1949) used under CC BY 2.o

The classic twinset, a shell/sweater and a matching cardigan, is often labeled as boring and conservative when it’s history is anything but.  There is some debate over who created the twinset with Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and their efforts in the 1920’s seen by some as the starting point.  However, fashion designer Otto Weisz of Pringle of Scotland is often credited with creating the twinset after being inspired by the sweater sets worn on the golf course.  This is in 1934.  A few years later, the twinset craze is launched when Joan Fontaine wears them in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Rebecca.  (See pic here.)  The look is such a hit that some countries refer to the twinset as a “Rebecca”.

The 1940’s through the 1960’s is when the twinset is most popular with many of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses, like Grace Kelly and Lana Turner, sporting the look.  And, let’s not forget the sex appeal of the infamous sweater girl.

Eventually, the twinset goes the way of many great trends and becomes a house wife staple.  However, the twinset regains popularity in the 1990’s.  Think of Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.  This LA Times article from 1995 captures the twinset revival.  Plus, Gwyneth Paltrow even wore one at the 1999 Golden Globes.

From casual to dressy, the twinset can be worn for many different occasions and is still a celebrity staple today.  Just take a look…

Time to add a twinset to your wardrobe?  Here are some popular brands…


  1. I just heard of the term “twinset”….. glad to have read this and thanks for sharing..
    I do see how my mother-in-law has stayed so classical with her own twinset…I am quite inspired.

  2. Oh yeah I totally associate the twinset with the 1940s. I totally wish I had gone to school for fashion not as a designer per say b/c I hate sewing. But I went for graphic design b/c I though it would be more practical. But there no jobs and what few there are pay low…so really not so much, haha.

    Ali of Dressing Ken
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  3. I don’t think I’ve ever had a twinset, but I think they are super timeless and can be updated with the right accessories, jeans, and heels. I loved reading about the history, btw.

  4. I started wearing twinsets to work about ten years ago. I think they make a great alternative when you don’t feel like wearing a blazer. I think I now have plenty and have stopped buying them for the time being.

  5. Yes, I`m also a fan of twinset cardigans. I love my wife for wearing them every now and then

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