The United States women’s national football team (USWNT) are off to a good start in the defence of their World Cup title, winning their opening match against Vietnam 3-0 before drawing with the Netherlands on Thursday. This year, the team are looking to give Megan Rapinoe, their talismanic attacker, a final piece of silverware before she retires.

Over the past decade, Rapinoe has established herself as a global superstar. In the 2019 World Cup, she won both the Golden Boot (for most goals scored in the tournament) and the Golden Ball (best player). She is a double Olympic medallist and recipient of the most prestigious prize in the game, the Ballon d’Or. Last year, she received the presidential medal of freedom.

But there is another thing for which Rapinoe has become famous: her winning style. It might have been her pink-purple cropped quiff that first garnered attention – she is currently sporting a turquoise version, and in the past, it was peroxide blonde – but her standout looks are not confined to her locks, nor, for that matter, her impeccably groomed eyebrows.

Megan Rapinoe in Vivienne Westwood for the Guardian.

Megan Rapinoe in Vivienne Westwood for the Guardian. Photograph: Dylan Coulter/The Guardian

Vogue has stated that Rapinoe has “the swagger and attitude of a style icon”, and the athlete has graced the covers of Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, GQ and more. In 2019, her photoshoot for Sports Illustrated’s swimwear issue, in which she showed off rock-hard abs in a Haus of PinkLemonAid mesh gold bikini, went viral.

Rapinoe’s diverse approach to clothes mirrors her flair on the field. She is an expert in mixing and matching: there’s her hallmark androgynous approach, combining masculine cuts with cleavage or full-glamour earrings. Or the way she pairs designer with department store. Her trouser suits – often in bright colours and bold patterns – are lusted after.

An emblematic outfit was the sheer, unbuttoned-to-the-navel shirt she wore under a wide-lapel, crystal-encrusted blazer, and teamed with a satin tuxedo pant at the ESPY awards. _ **_ Appearing at the 2021 Met Gala, Rapinoe nailed the theme of In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, in a stars-and-stripes themed flared, silk suit – bright red and designed by Sergio Hudson – with a blue, silver stars-accented shirt. (Hudson is black, and Rapinoe often wears black designers as part of her support for racial justice.)

Working with her stylist, Karla Welch, Rapinoe is refreshingly unpredictable, describing her own style instincts as “sometimes a hurricane, sometimes plain”. She is not averse to rocking black leather shorts on the red carpet. But she loves a classic stealth-wealth staple, too: a lux camel coat, for instance; and Gucci and Louboutin loafers are wardrobe fixtures. She shares a striped purple and red mohair Marni sweater with her partner, basketball star, Sue Bird, and the two have elevated power couple dressing from those dark days of Britney and Justin in head-to-toe denim.

Megan Rapinoe at the Met Gala in 2019

Megan Rapinoe at the Met Gala in 2019. Photograph: Matt Baron/Rex/Shutterstock

While sharp and masculine tailoring are her signature, Rapinoe equally dazzles in gowns. This three-piece menswear Gucci suit is adistinctive look, but so was the custom crushed velvet dress – by the same label – in which she picked up Glamour’s Woman of the Year award.

Rapinoe can do casual just as well as smart, whether it’s rocking an Acne leather jacket or teaming a vintage David Bowie tee with a bomber and trainers. Rapinoe has said getting her first pair of Air Jordans 11 was “one of the happiest days of my life”, and her Off-White x Air Jordan 1 Chicagos, personalised by her hero and their designer, the late Virgil Abloh, are “an art piece”.

In 2022, Rapinoe took her fashion status to the next level, creating her own logo and launching a capsule collection called Victory Redefined in tandem with sportswear giant (and her sponsor), Nike. There were roomy puffer jackets, tricolour hoodies and knee-length monochrome zipper coats. “There’s just nothing better than putting something on that just fits,” she said at the time. “Your confidence goes up 10 levels when you feel good in something.” Sometimes, she feels sportswear has just “settled”; she’s about switching it up. “How can we constantly tweak it to make it better?”

Perhaps it was the aforementioned Sports Illustrated swimwear shoot that inspired Victoria’s Secret to approach Rapinoe to curate a collection for the company (which she modelled), with “comfort and confidence in mind”.

Megan Rapinoe in sunglasses

Megan Rapinoe in sunglasses, one of her ‘10 things I can’t live without’. Photograph: Emmanuel Foudrot/Reuters

When it comes to sunglasses, she is a retro and modern aesthetic equal opportunist, wearing the gamut from art deco-inspired Burberry to classic Celine. In an interview with GQ, the star picked sunglasses as one of her “10 things I can’t live without” and admitted she owns about 20 pairs, citing Kurt Cobain as one inspiration.

She is obsessed with layering earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces. Even as a kid she says she would wear friendship bracelets, or … elastic bands. (Her love for fashion she attributes to her mother.) These days, her pieces come from Beladora, Repossi and Anita Ko.

Rapinoe has stated that she wants to be a designer when she “grows up”, and with the day she hangs up her boots drawing ever closer, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her fascination with clothes develop into a full-time second career. But first, there’s work to be done in a USWNT kit.