Tennis, golf, polo, swimming…
These sports demand not just athleticism but leisure time. The prosperity of the1920s enabled the popularity of sports for both men and women. Such activities demanded the adoption of sportswear that allowed ease of movement. Many of these sports served as opportunities for women to adopt elements of menswear. Some women adopted knickers or breeches with shirts and ties for golf or horseback riding. Bathing suits for men and women were quite similar with an upper section that extends into straps over the shoulder and a skirt that concealed the tops of the thighs. The ideal female body in the 1920s was boyish and slim – a physical type that demanded fitness. The fashionable clothing in turn showcased the resulting physiques.
The development of new and practical fabrics like jersey helped in the development of a fashionable sportswear.Stripes, polkadots and Naval inspired-motifs were very common among sportswear fashions. Both French designers Chanel and Patou helped propel sportswear into everyday fashion – the modernization and simplification of 1920s fashion owes much to the development of sportswear.
Images from Kent State University Archives & Special Collections showing women participating in intramural sports in the 1920s.