The sweater girl, vintage spring 1980, is a cut apart from her counterpart of the 1950s when Lana Turner and others boasted of bosomy shapes in sweaters. And teen-agers wore a baggier variety, often pairing "sloppy joe" sweater or cardigan and matching pullover with pleated skirts cut off several inches below the knee. Essential to that look was white socks and saddle shoes.

The sweater returned in abundance last fall, helped along by the energy crisis and the lowering of temperatures in office buildings. But a bigger boost still was given by the fact that hand-knit sweaters, or at least hand-knit-looking ones, provided a well-accepted alternative to multi-layered dressing and a wise investment in a special item. And the variety and inventiveness of such sweaters were so great that there were sure to be many that women did not already own.

Such sweaters, in cotton or cotton lookalikes for summer, have become a worthy element for updating a spring wardrobe. Perfect for injecting a bright accent of color under a suit or blazer, they will stand very well on their own as the weather gets warmer.

There is a terrific assortment of these sweaters currently in the stores, some borrowing the shape of the popular Peter Pushbottom sweaters for men and women that are mostly a flat knit and crew neck in a deep assortment of colors. Others take their cue from the successful woolknits, particularly those of Joan Vass and Perry Ellis that have a clearly hand-knit, intricately stitched and styled appearance.

Sketched below, two of our favorite ways to wear cotton sweaters this summer. Left, with soft silk-like patterned skirt and mid-high shaped heel shoes. The other is worn with wide pants that are cropped off above the ankle and worn with flat shoes.