Sport has had a massive influence on how we choose to dress. Stephanie Smith looks at how activewear continues to inspire fashion.
THERE’S more to sport than simply providing health benefits, excitement, inspiration, camaraderie and a sense of achievement.
What about all the benefits and inspiration that sports bring to the world of fashion and style, informing what we wear, introducing notes of practicality and performance, making sure that our clothing and footwear look good and work with us as we move?
Sports dress has been of particular benefit to women, playing its role in our emancipation as those who wanted to play sport well demanded the right to be able to move, stretch and perform like their male counterparts.
Tweed was used in the early days for both men and women, especially for playing golf, and the shorter skirts and practical pleats, plus the golf sweater, soon found their way into mainstream casual wear, where they have remained to this day, a classic staple.
In the 1930s trousers also translated from sporting and agricultural use into women’s wardrobes, but it is tennis that has been key in influencing how women choose to dress. In 1922 Suzanne Lenglen shocked the world when she wore a short skirt at Wimbledon, followed in 1932 by Alice Marble, who had the audacity to step out in shorts. Ever since, tennis wear has been at the forefront of fashions that combine performance with femininity, from Teddy Tingling’s Dior-influenced waffle pique flared dresses of the late 1940s to the sleek Stella McCartney creations of today.
Even if we don’t play sport, summer is when we want to feel free. Activewear is made in fabrics that help skin breathe and stay cool, so it’s not surprising that we increasingly choose to work active pieces into our everyday wardrobes.
Then there is the tracksuit. Thankfully the shellsuit versions (baggy, shiny) have mostly become extinct, except as knowing nods to retro “chav-tastic” trends for fancy dress parties and hen/stag bar crawls. But those flattering seam stripes and zip blouson shapes have been transformed into what we now call “Sports Luxe” – a trend that is here to stay.
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