Historical Trends In Women’s Sportswear

In the last decade, global sports giants like Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc., have steered and focused on the womens sportswear with the launch of different design and styles. The sector has been fast-growing and has evolved so much that today women’s activewear sector is a multi-billion industry that will continue to go up.

In the past, it was not considered important for women to win at competitive sports. For that reason, womens sportswear was not designed to provide the movement that would allow them to excel. For example, in the 1900’s, golf womens sportswear was basically tailored blouses and skirts, very similar to clothes designed for business.


With time, not only did the golf womens sportswear made its way into fashion, but also many other sport brands introduced their first casual garment collections. Moreover, the fast mass production techniques, have benefited womens sportswear industry, and shorter hems became a very common detail on most sports skirt styles.

Women had worn restrictive clothing including long/heavy skirts, tight sleeved jackets and hats to play tennis until 1910. In 1922 ‘Suzanne Lenglen’ astonished the world when she wore a short skirt to play tennis at Wimbledon. She decided to ditch the hat and has caused a commotion with her headband which was designed to allow her to actually see what was going on the tennis court. But it was in the 1920’s, when ‘Jean Patou’ introduced practicality in the tennis womens sportswear. He revolutionized the sport with short sports skirts and in some sense, forced people to be become accustomed to the idea of suitability of purpose.

In the early 1930’s, skiing was the sport of the time. The clothes designed for the slopes presented long and slender silhouettes. Cuffed hems with long trousers were worn with short, square jackets with wide shoulders that allowed sweaters to be worn under them. White, navy and bright trousers were the most common colours seen at the time.

By the late 30s, women were becoming active in numerous other sports including golf, water skiing, running, fishing, etc., as well as riding and cycling. Slowly but surely, womens sportswear was being designed to meet the real demands of active women.

Womens sportswear fashion history has been influenced by the changes in the technology, work, leisure, cultural and moral values. Politics and home-life have also contribute to womens sportswear historical trends. However, these changes marked not only the womens sportswear fashion, but sports industry in general.