When the Girls Came Out to Play: The Birth of American Sportswear

When the Girls Came Out to Play: The Birth of American Sportswear

by Patricia Campbell Warner
     
 

ISBN-10: 1558495487

ISBN-13: 9781558495487

Pub. Date: 08/02/2006

Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press

A study of the evolution of American women's clothing, When the Girls Came Out to Play traces the history of modern sportswear as a universal style that broke down traditional gender roles. Patricia Warner shows how this profound cultural shift, which did not reach fruition until World War II, originated during the previous century with the gradual expansion of

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Overview

A study of the evolution of American women's clothing, When the Girls Came Out to Play traces the history of modern sportswear as a universal style that broke down traditional gender roles. Patricia Warner shows how this profound cultural shift, which did not reach fruition until World War II, originated during the previous century with the gradual expansion of socially acceptable physical activity for women. Behind this development was a growing interest in sports and exercise that was further nurtured by the establishment of schools of higher education for women.The participation of women in athletic pursuits previously reserved for men began with the relatively genteel sports of croquet and tennis. With the founding of women's colleges, these "ladylike" games were supplemented by more vigorous activities and competitive team sports, from gymnastics to swimming to basketball. At first, Warner points out, women literally had nothing to wear for these activities. Whereas such fashionable attire as corsets, petticoats, hats, and gloves could be worn while playing outdoor lawn games, more strenuous athletic endeavors required less physically restrictive clothing. Even so, change came only gradually, as women's colleges, shielded from public scrutiny and prying male eyes, permitted the adoption of looser, more comfortable apparel for physical education. Many of these new outfits featured trousers, garments considered taboo for women, though they often remained hidden beneath voluminous skirts.

Over time, however, the practicality and versatility of such clothing led to social acceptance, laying the foundation for the emergence of the now ubiquitous yet distinctly American style known as sportswear. Although we take it for granted, Warner observes, this is the first time in the history of the world that such universality has existed in clothing, and it has lasted now for well over half a century -- in itself a marvel, considering the speed of fashion change in an era of instant messages and images.

University of Massachusetts Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558495487
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
08/02/2006
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Pt. 1The influence of fashion
Introduction : public clothing for outdoor play3
Ch. 1Factors of change11
Ch. 2Women move out-of-doors : croquet and skating24
Ch. 3Taking up tennis43
Ch. 4Bathing and swimming : seeking a "sensible costume"61
Ch. 5Women enter the Olympics : a sleeker swimsuit84
Ch. 6Bicycling and the bloomer104
Pt. 2The influence of education
Introduction : private clothing for physical education141
Ch. 7Trouser wearing : early influences149
Ch. 8The rise of interest in exercise for women158
Ch. 9Innovation at Wellesley : a uniform for crew177
Ch. 10The debut of the gym suit196
Ch. 11Taking exercise clothes to new places : women biologists at Woods Hole227
Ch. 12The merging of public and private : sportswear and the American style242

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