Tennis Fashion Part 1 – Modest was Hottest (Literally)

When tennis was first played by women in the 1860s, they dressed as they would for every day life.

This meant their tennis outfits consisted of  modest clothing made of heavy materials like wool or flannel. They often wore corsets with high-collared blouses and neckties, long bustle skirts, and skimmer hats.

Running across the court after a ball in a long skirt and corset? I don’t think so.

Maybe these women were not out on the court exerting themselves to the fullest, but even on a chilly day I would think that it would be rather restricting.

I can’t even begin to imagine what playing in 90 degree weather would have felt like in that outfit…It isn’t hard to break a sweat when you are playing hard so I feel like that outfit could cause someone to pass out from the heat.

The women in these outfits do have something in common with women who play tennis today and that is that they both are concerned with wearing what is “in” for the time period. For the 1860’s, that was being extremely modest and covered in heavy materials. As for now, women tennis players are always trying to out do one another with the fashion they wear on the courts (Although with some  of the outfits worn by women players recently, I think we wish they would revert to some level of modesty, but we will talk about that more later).

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3 thoughts on “Tennis Fashion Part 1 – Modest was Hottest (Literally)

  1. Nice post. Like where you’re headed with your blog.

  2. Bri Jewett says:

    I am assuming this is where women’s tennis skirts originated from? I think it is interesting that women softball players are not still wearing skirts, as with many other sports.

    • meganadams12 says:

      Bri, I think that a good reason that tennis skirts are still worn by tennis players is that they have evolved in a way that is conducive to the sport. I would imagine that they are no longer worn in softball because the level of intensity of the game has risen (i.e. sliding into base) and requires clothing that will protect more than a skirt would.

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