Now the people want to look like players
This is not the first time sportswear designers have taken their inspiration from the playing fields. The athletic touch is a sort of tribute from the fans, who have over the years borrowed everything from rugby shirts to Wellington boots to bicycle shorts for everyday wear—even adding racing stripes to their sneakers. This year the trend has turned to the baseball dugout to produce a series of warmups for all seasons. As with most sportswear fads, this one seems to have arrived full-blown and with as much snap and pop as Mary Macinkas and her baseball bubble gum below.
In terms of a sport to borrow from, baseball uniforms go back to 1846, when the New York Knickerbockers became the first team to wear them. Since then, there have been more changes in clothing than in rules. When the Cincinnati Red Stockings appeared in knickers in 1869 (instead of traditional trousers) opposing teams subjected them to unmerciful jeering. Somewhere along the way baseball caps replaced straw boaters, and bow ties, sun collars, long sleeves, baggy trousers and heavy eight-ounce woolens went the way of barehanded catchers. In a bit of reverse thievery during the past decade, organized baseball lifted at least one item from the fashion world: double-knit fabrics for uniforms, a change that made traditionalists grumble and ballplayers happy.
Among the designers who are now pushing the baseball look is Stephen Burrows, this year's recipient of the Coty Fashion Critics Award, who regularly sports a baseball cap himself and who tops off his baseball-inspired clothes for fall with his own knit baseball caps. Maria and Willy Bogner, who work out of Munich—a very hot baseball town—offer waist-length styled-for-action slalom jackets that go to the ski slopes via the ball park. They cost a cool $120. Somebody, of course, had to put together the most expensive bit of baseball frippery. It turned out to be the couturier Halston, of Madison Avenue, who has whomped up a warmup jacket in natural ranch mink—price $2,800. In a different league, there are sweaters at Red I. with baseball buttons, striped sleeves and the knitted-in figure of a batter on the back for $20. Anne Collins of Sandsweeper says she had the idea of covering up bikini tops with matching warmups ($25) "so girls can wear the jackets later on with jeans or shorts when they leave the beach." And, for the status seeker who hopes to make the fans' Hall of Fame, furrier Jacques Kaplan will make up a warmup jacket in French rabbit for any team in either league, for man or woman, at a mere $495.