Yesterday, after a meet-and-greet with President Obama, the highest-scoring international soccer player of all time announced her retirement. “It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride,” said U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach, who’s scored 184 goals over her 15-year career, in a statement. “I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings.”
The preceding chapters have brought Wambach a World Cup championship, two Olympic gold medals, and an unstoppable ball faculty some have called talismanic. And though it’s been a gift to fans of sports and powerful women alike to see Wambach become the world’s most reliable goal-maker, watching her come into her own on the style front has echoed and affirmed the often awkward evolution of androgynous dressers everywhere. At nearly six feet tall with delts for days and a head that’s scored as many goals as Pelé did with his entire body, Wambach has given interested parties plenty to kibitz about with her off-field wardrobe and steadily improving hair game.
In 2002, Wambach’s abbreviated mullet betrayed the conflicted sensibilities of someone who was looking for a short cut but needed something to pull into a ponytail when the field demanded it.
There is no reason for anyone to ever wear a leopard cowboy hat, and I can only imagine that Wambach consented to this photo under duress.
As one-percenter and presidential candidate John Kerry tried to prove he could relate to the average khaki-wearing American, soccer godsend Wambach dressed like every girl on your sister’s high school soccer team.
This is pretty much the only publically available photo of Wambach in makeup and dangly earrings. Call this her femme-sperimentation period.
My sixth-grade self would have killed for Wambach’s 2008-era ponytails, with nary a bump in sight.
Even in game play, with the help of a headband, Wambach’s talismanic ponytails remained pristine.
The headband worked just as well for one of Wambach’s most adorable ‘dos, this crazy tousled mess. This return to the short cut marks the dawn of the modern Wambach hair age.
Like every lesbian under 40 in 2011, Wambach tried out the side-swept bangs some have compared to those of a pre-pubescent Justin Bieber.
Wambach’s 2013 red-carpet look was a big step up from her previous fancy get-ups. Pros: Slicked-back hair, interesting blazer, power-patent shoes. Cons: Ill-fitting pants, white T-shirt. Almost there, Abby!
This outfit suited Wambach well, but it was a little too fireside-with-the-boo for a press conference. And those baggy, wrinkled pants look like they might have cargo pockets, an unequivocal no-no.
2015 was a big, bold year for Wambach’s hair. She got it cut high and tight, a hip look that’s also practical for the field, and grown enough for a superstar in her mid 30s.
Newly blonde and more confident than ever, Wambach looks like she’s about to stomp this red carpet to smithereens with her iridescent high-tops and a worthy display case for her guns.
“This team taught all America’s children that playing like a girl means you’re a badass,” President Obama said at yesterday’s press conference. With a helping hand from Megan Rapinoe, Wambach showed the kiddos that blazers and bleached hair are a badass pairing, too.
After four more matches, Wambach’s soccer career will end in mid-December. Her contributions to the sport will live on in the history books and halls of fame, but her contributions to the androgynous celebrity hair-and-wardrobe canon will always hold the gold medal in my heart.