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Women who want to look as good on Super Bowl Sunday as they hope their team does on the field have options. With a whole line of fashionable football apparel available, the philosophy of "shrink it and pink it" need no longer apply to female fans who want to don NFL attire, not drown in it.
It's taken some time for the football industry to figure out that women can be both fashion-forward and fans of football, says the NFL's director of apparel, Rhiannon Madden (no relation to the coach-turned-commentator, although she says she's been asked that at least once a day for the past 11 years).
Female fans don't all engage with football in the same way, Madden tells NPR's Michel Martin. "So we looked at them and said, 'What can we do better for our fans?' "
In 2010, the NFL launched Fit For You, a line of apparel geared toward women that's available on the NFL's website and in retail stores. The campaign collected input from football players' wives and Alyssa Milano, who started her own line of womenswear for the NFL ahead of the 2008 season.
Fit For You apparel ranges from casual, V-neck tees with a vintage look to sterling silver pendants featuring team mascots outlined in rhinestones. It also sells nail polish duos in team colors, and rain boots — for those who aren't just fair-weather fans.
"We wanted to make sure that we had something for everyone," which is why, Madden says, the line includes maternity wear, plus-sizes and fitness attire. In addition, the NFL just launched a new line of handbags and footwear.
Madden was a bit apprehensive about higher-end football fanwear, but she says it's been a successful venture.
There's certainly a market for such products. The NFL has seen a significant increase in its female fan base in recent years. Last year, 51 million women watched the Super Bowl — less than half as many who watched the Academy Awards.
Madden says some women might want to be "loud and proud" about their favorite team, while others want to showcase their spirit in more subtle ways. But the Super Bowl can turn even women with an understated style to bejeweled extremes. Madden, for instance, will sport a full-sequined Patriots jersey this Sunday.
"I'm not actually the type of girl that would wear sequins normally, but I just had to. It's just so off the charts and I know it's going to get a lot of attention for my Patriots," she says.