THE SPORTING LOOK OLD AND NEW
This is an article from the Nov. 22, 1954 issue
In the eyes of its editor, Fred R. Smith, and his associate, Jo Ahern Zill, The Sporting Look is far more than a fashion section (although that is certainly one of the things it is, as in this week's sweater story on page 75). It is also a vital part of the story and history of sport itself, telling each week in pictures and a few words what sports do for clothes and what clothes do for sports.
Fred Smith put it this way in a recent address to the Clothing Manufacturers Association:
"When a photographer brings in a take of a field trial, the event has a flavor about it that is more than guns and dogs. It shows up in the brush pants and Loden coats and corduroy shooting jackets. And when a writer describes the U.S. Open, he discovers that Jimmy Demaret's mauve linen pants and the brilliant colors of his golf club mitts are almost as much a part of the story as birdies and bogies."
Around the turn of the century any writer charged with similarly describing golf had no choice but to note suit coats, vests with pendant watch chains, four-in-hands, even wing collars; and on the ladies—the few there were—skirts which combed the fairway, unmalleable shirtwaists of iron starch and, atop the head, beribboned skimmers. At least this costume was adaptable. It applied equally to bicycling, tennis and croquet, and, with duster and goggles, to horseless-carriaging. Even the bathing suit showed marked relationship to the garb of the links, the court and the lawn party. Nobody would have said sports weren't delightful, but who could say they were easy?
It's always been simplest and the most fun to start the clothing revolution with Annette Kellerman. With an interest which went beyond mere wading into the wild realm of swimming, she peeled off vast expanses of waterlogged silk and dived happily in the direction which seems to have reached its ultimate in the Bikini. Years later Suzanne Lenglen loped onto the courts at Forest Hills wearing silver foxes—a different version of "the sporting look" but the sporting look for all that. And perhaps Gussie Moran carried this tradition as far as it can go.
SI approaches the matter in The Sporting Look from three different points of view. First, from that of participant clothes, as, for example, in the article on hunting dress in the Nov. 8 issue. Then, there's what the spectators have on, and—whether at a football game, boat race, or ski jump—a costume has evolved for each sport. But third, and perhaps of greatest significance to most of us, are the ways in which sport rules the clothes we wear every day. "Sports shirts" now imply a good deal more than the use to which they were originally put. "Bermuda" or "walking" shorts are hardly confined these days to people walking in Bermuda. These, and other apparel items like them, are for many the chosen raiment for going shopping, or to class, or across the street. They are, to use the language of the race track rather than of the salon, "by Sport, out of Preference."
Next week The Sporting Look takes a long look at the sporting look on the Riviera; and after that at what they wear while skiing at Davos, in the Swiss Alps, bathing in southern California and sailing in cold weather; and for good measure we'll also have, when it gets cold, this winter's well-dressed dog.
It's a long way from starched bosoms and wing collars.