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You’ve come a long way baby!

June 17, 2010

Searching for inspiration for today’s blog, I came across this article on the history of tennis fashion from fashionweartoday.com. We’ve come a long way baby!

Tennis Fashion History

Dec.25, 2009  

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tennis clothesWe thought that you must be interested in the tennis fashion history, as this kind of sport is considered to be one of the most popular and aristocratic at the same time.

old-tennis-fashion

First of all tennis began in England in the 1860s. It was played pomp on groomed grass by the leisure class in long dresses over tea and corsets. English players usually wore all-white outfits, chosen for reasons of perspiration. At Wimbledon, the game’s first tournament, fashion evolved from long to short, all the way from proper hats to kinky braids.Thus the tennis fashion was being evolved. See the tennis fashion evolution history below!

20-s tennis fashion history

Suzanne Lenglen

Suzanne Lenglen came to revolutionize women’s tennis fashion. First of all, she began to play without petticoats or corsets. The French couturier Jean Patou outfits which she wore looked like ballet costumes. There were all clingy and filmy with brightly colored sleeveless cardigans and white silk stockings twisted into place with a French coin or a functional knee-length cotton pleated skirt dress tied with a simple ribbon about the waist.

Suzanne Lenglen trademark was a dramatic Lenglen Bandeau fastened with a diamond clasp. But the fur coats she always wore even during the sweltering heat were even more extravagant.

Suzanne_Lenglen_300 suzanne-lenglen3

Don’t forget to mention her applying makeup between sets.

30-s tennis fashion history

In the 1930s it was Helen Wills, the American, who led on the tennis court as well as in the fashion stakes.

Helen Wills

As glamorous as a Hollywood actress, a change of hairstyle made headlines. Wills, who won the Wimbledon women’s singles eight times between 1927 and 1938, also introduced the eyeshade.

helen_wills

Joan Lycett in 1931 was the first to play in bare legs and ankle socks.

The miniskirt was still 30 years away, but on the tennis court it became acceptable for women to wear skirts two or three inches above the knee, or even culottes.

The Prince of Wales, a keen tennis player, once said: “I see no reason women should not wear shorts when they play tennis. They are very comfortable and quite the most practical costume for the game.”

50-s tennis fashion history

But the real revolution occured in the 1950s when Ted Tinling created a dress with purple coloured hemlines for tennis player Joy Gannon.

The British and Americans objected saying it breached the all-white rule. Tinling’s response was to add white lace trim to the under-knickers in a bid to emphasize his outfit’s femininity.

Thus the frilly knickers were born.

knickers

70-s tennis fashion history

When the 1970s came, players became known more for their associations with giant sports footwear and apparel sponsors than for their distinctive, individual dress style.

But Billie Jean King challenged a loud-mouthed male chauvinist to a match. King won in straight sets, declaring victory for all women. Her performance made the headlines – not her outfit.

Billie Jean King

More importantly, women could share the limelight with men. For the first time, as their stock grew larger, the outfits shorter and tighter, the breakthrough involved winning prize money at near par levels of male counterparts.

80-s/90-s tennis fashion history

In the ’80s and ’90s, tennis emphasized performance wear-second skin fibers and breathable fabrics-substance over style.

Since the ’90s, tennis became more about looks and ratings. Fashion magazines made tennis babes millionaires. Sponsors encouraged the racy outfits. Anna Kournikova, the tall blonde Russian, wore ever shorter outfits, attracting a huge following, regardless of the fact she never won a grand slam tournament.

kurnikova4

Maria Sharapova another famous Russian tennis player surprised everyone by wearing shorts. She matched her “menswear-inspired” Nike outfit with a decidedly sexy, sheer top with a tuxedo “dickie” embellishing the front.

maria-sharapova

Her top was considered “sheer but still demure; for the athletic woman who wants to make every game an event.”

recent years tennis fashion history

In recent times, tennis fashion has mainly been pretty stale but a few have broken through for their interesting fashion choices.  Anne White caused tabloid headlines for her white jumpsuit ensemble at Wimbledon.  Serena Williams is often known for her daring choices.  Rarely, does she stick to the ‘all white’ rule at Wimbledon and caused a bit of a sensation with a black catsuit.

anne-white-1 serena catsuit serena-williams1 serena-williams2

Maria Kirilenko, another Russian tennis babe (in the vein of Kournikova and Sharapova) has topped my list of most stylish in women’s tennis sporting the Stella McCartney for Adidas dresses.  Kirilenko is actually the muse for the spring/summer collection which probably explains why she looks amazing in the dusky pink dress.

maria_kirilenko

As a blast from the past, nonetheless, Wimbledon remains one of the last bastions of a formal dress code, with dress whites de rigueur. In fact, any woman wearing a low-cut top can be ejected from the court.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 18, 2010 1:24 pm

    Not all steps forward were a step in the right direction. I still like the old photos of Rene Lacoste in a sweater vest.

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