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A Museum Exhibit on the History of Women’s Sportswear

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My friend Sonya, who’s a Ph.D. fashion historian, recently told me about a museum exhibit on the history of women’s sportswear, called Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960. That web page says the exhibit “is traveling to venues across the United States before debuting in a larger format at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in 2024,” but there’s no schedule of where it’s supposedly traveling (presumably due to the pandemic) and the FIDM is currently closed (ditto). Fortunately, there’s a PDF that shows all of the outfits from the exhibition, and many of them are spectacular (like the 1947 roller derby uniform shown above), so I picked out some of the best and more interesting ones to showcase for today’s post.

Baseball

We tend to think of women playing softball, not baseball, but the exhibit says this 1935 uniform was for baseball.

Boxing

I had no idea that women’s boxing was a thing as early as the 1940s, but that’s when this outfit is from.

Basketball

This amazing uniform dates back to 1919! Incredible stuff (including the fantastic footwear), although of course it’s sad and ridiculous that women of that era were stuck wearing puffy bloomers instead of shorts.

Tennis

The exhibit includes several tennis ensembles. I like the one shown above, which is from 1914, because of the interesting cloth racket case.

There’s also this tennis outfit, from the mid-1880s (note the gloves):

And this one, from the 1920s:

Golf

Oh, man — that wicker club bag! Almost enough to distract me from the weird hat. This is all from the mid-1890s.

Inline Skating

Did you know that inline skates date all the way back to the 1700s? I sure didn’t! These are from the 1890s.

Motorcycling

Damn — this outfit, from the late 1930s, looks like something you might see today at a leather fetish shop.

Calisthenics

Holy moly! This one is from the 1860s.

Fencing

This is from the 1890s. I love how the plastron (a word I didn’t know until just now) has a little heart graphic.

Bowling

I understand why they showed this one from behind, because bowling shirts have cool embroidered designs on the back. But women’s bowling shirts tend to have pockets down toward the hemline instead of on the chest (plus, like most women’s shirts, they button differently than men’s shirts), so I wish they’d shown the front so we could see the pocket.

Cheerleading

The outfit shown above is circa 1900. The exhibit also includes one from the 1950s:

Bathing

The exhibit includes a bunch of vintage women’s swimsuits. I chose to show this one, from 1903, because of its amazing variety of stripes.

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I could go on, but you get the idea. If you want to see more, you can see all of the outfits from the exhibit here.

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“Grading the Name Changes” reminder: In case you missed it on Thursday: With the Washington Football Team scheduled to announce its new name in a few weeks, I decided to grade the previous pro sports team renamings. It was a fun exercise, and you can check it out now on Bulletin.

As always, you can also subscribe to receive my Bulletin articles via email.

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Facebook Live recap: Big thanks to everyone who attended last night’s Facebook Live event (which, as you can see above, featured a guest cameo by Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin). There were a few technical glitches, and it was weird to be just talking into the void, but overall I thought it was fun and worthwhile. I showed off a few of my vintage uniforms and also answered questions posted by people who were watching. If you missed it but want to check it out, here you go:


I’m thinking I may do these on a semi-regular basis — say, every two months or so. This is uncharted territory for me, so please feel free to give feedback on what you liked or didn’t like, what worked or didn’t work. Thanks.

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ITEM! The Classic Cap is back (sort of): Our original Uni Watch Classic Cap sold out last summer (as you may recall, Ebbets Field Flannels no longer has access to the particular shade of green fabric we were using).

But! It turns out that we have six mis-sized caps remaining. They’re tagged as 7-3/8, but they measure more like 7-1/8ish. I’m going to sell them for $19.99 plus $7 for shipping, for a total of $26.99. No exchanges, no returns — all sales final!

Since Ebbets no longer has this fabric available, these are the last Classic Caps ever. If you want one, send me $26.99 via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or PayPal (newcollegeuni@gmail.com). If you’d rather use Apple Pay or a paper check, contact me and I’ll give you the info you need. If you’re not in the USA, get in touch and I’ll let you know the shipping charge for your country.

After these last six caps are gone, Mark LaFountain will step down from his role as Uni Watch Cap Fulfillment Manager — a role for which he very generously volunteered about three years ago. I’m grateful beyond words for his assistance during that time. Thanks, Mark — you’re the best.

Will we have more caps in the future? Maybe — but if so, I’ll need someone to fill Mark’s very large shoes (because I don’t have the space in a small NYC apartment to store tons of caps and boxes). If you think that sounds like you — or to put it another way, if you’re interested in tediously boxing up lots of caps as orders come in and then taking them to your local post office, where the clerk will eventually start saying, “What, you again? More boxes going out?” — give me a shout and we can discuss. Thanks.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: This blog ranks the Rangers’ current uni sets from worst to best (thanks, Phil). … The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters will reveal new uniforms next Friday (from @bigdaddy45_1969).

NFL News: The Bucs will be wearing white at home for Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Eagles (thanks, Phil). Always fun to see former Giants DL Jim Burt’s super-wide-spaced NOB lettering. That shot is from the 1985 NFC Wild Card game (from Pat Matullo).

Hockey News: Here are the Czech unis for the upcoming Winter Olympics (from Wade Heidt). … Hurricanes G Jack LaFontaine was still wearing his Minnesota Golden Gophers mask during his first NHL practice. He just signed his entry-level contract on Jan. 9 and had been playing for Minnesota until then (from William I. Wells). … Believe it or not, this year’s NHL All-Star unis are actually pretty nice. Yesterday’s official release confirms earlier leaks (from multiple readers). … The Premier Hockey Federation’s Connecticut Whale have unveiled Alzheimer’s Awareness sweaters to be worn this weekend (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … G Nolan Mailer of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades had his mask painted in the style of Chris Osgood’s unique mask (from @TeebzHBIC). … The death of a Connecticut high school player after another’s player’s skate blade cut his neck in an on-ice collision has renewed the debate about neck guards, which are mandatory for amateur players in Canada but not in the States.

College/High School Hoops News: Michigan men’s is going BFBS tonight (thanks, Phil).
 

Soccer News: Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale wore the team’s standard away kit, rather than the keeper’s kit, during last night’s League Cup match against Liverpool (from Johnny Jatt). … New Everton winger Anwar El Ghazi will wear No. 34 in honor of former teammate Abdelhak Nouri, who suffered a cardiac arrhythmia during a friendly match for Ajax in 2017, leaving him with severe brain damage. El Ghazi is the latest of several former Ajax players to wear No. 34 after moving to a new club, a trend I wrote about back in 2020. … Real Salt Lake has hired a marketing agency to find a new stadium naming rights advertiser.

Grab Bag: Cross-posted from the hockey section: Here are the Czech hockey unis for the 2022 Winter Olympics (from Wade Heidt). … Team Germany unveiled some of their unis in Munich yesterday (from @sebastian42195).

Grab Bag: Utah is soliciting the public for new flag designs (from Brice Wallace). … Adelaide released their Indigenous design for their AFL men’s and women’s teams as well as their South Australia’s men’s league team (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Not uni-related but still pretty cool: Here is a 14-inch core sample of the surface of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, showing 113 years of evolution of the track (from David Firestone). … My hometown of Portland, Maine, has a new logo set. Inexplicably, the “Portland” wordmark is all in lowercase, but the word “City” is capitalized.

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And that’s a wrap for this week. Enjoy Phil’s weekend content and the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend (Go Niners!), and I’ll see you back here on MLK Day. Peace. — Paul

Comments (38)

    TYhis blog ranks the Rangers’
    should be
    This blog ranks the Rangers’

    (I look forward to Uni-Watch each morning; thanks!)

    That core sample from the Indianapolis Speedway is pretty interesting, good find David Firestone!

    Those are some wild woman’s uniforms, not sure what stands out the most. Certainly just the style of the in-line skates themselves is something I don’t think I have ever seen before. The formal nature of the tennis/golf attire isn’t surprising given the history of the sports themselves. Those basketball shorts(?), wow!
    I think my favorite is the motorcycle attire. Looks like some sort of early 1900s fighter pilot super hero.

    As I recall, not only did Jim Burt have the widely-spaced name, but he preferred very tight jerseys.

    Awesome stuff on the exhibit! Paul, makes me think – have you ever thought of curating any sort of “sports style” exhibit? I feel like with the right partner you could do something really cool.

    My only wish for the FB Live feature is that it was hosted somewhere else (YouTube?) so those of us without a FB account could participate. (Or even view it, the link above is asking me to sign in.)

    Nice to see Caitlin!

    same with the live link – even though it said it was open to the public, I was unable to watch live without it asking me to log in (unless I was doing something wrong, of course)

    Regarding the women’s basketball uniform, Paul notes, “… although of course it’s sad and ridiculous that women of that era were stuck wearing puffy bloomers instead of shorts.” That’s true, of course. My mother played basketball about 20 years after that uniform was current. She would add that it’s also sad and ridiculous that women were forced to play that stupid variant of basketball with six players, three in the front court and three in the back court. Being 5’10” my mother was always a defensive player, and thus never got to shoot. She hated that. Wish I had photos of her uniform to share, but alas, we haven’t found any.

    Are those Michigan basketball unis in the ticker really black, or are they navy? One of the replies to the tweet seems to think they’re just a dark shade of blue.

    The Facebook video last night was terrific. I really enjoyed you showing your unique collection. I do collect more mass market items. I collect a lot of New York Mets and Vegas Golden Knights memorabilia, odd pairing, I know. But I love what you have done with your collection, it is a terrific personal museum of twentieth century Americana. I think it would be great if you continued with the videos on FB, it was easily accessible, even on smart phones. Thank you for all of your work in Sports Ascetics.

    Did you intentionally use the word “Ascetics” (characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons), or did you intend to say “Aesthetics” (concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty)? One could say that Penn State football has an ascetic aesthetic.

    Czech hockey sweater looks pretty good. Too bad that’s the only time we’ll get to see Pasta wearing it. But what is up with that grill grate design at the bottom of the neck? That element detracts highly from an otherwise nice look.

    It’s not limited to Nike. Look at Adidas’s NHL collars.

    Companies do this as a way of saying, “This isn’t just any jersey – it’s OUR jersey, and don’t you forget it.” Really fucking annoying.

    The vintage sportswear today is amazing, especially the fencing one. I’m going to have to spend some time going through them.

    I loved the Facebook live yesterday, so I hope you do more of them. Of course the biggest issue is you can just barely scratch the surface of things to discuss in the time available.

    I tried to access your FB Live event last night (and the link you provided today) but couldn’t do either without a FB “account” or whatever it is. I’ve never been on FB and don’t intend to start, so that’s disappointing…

    I remember learning the word plastron as a kid, but it was for the belly of a turtle. I didn’t know it was also used in fencing.

    Memo to the Winnipeg Jets:
    Poach those blue all-star jerseys and make them your own ASAP. A white version would also be gorgeous. They are reminiscent of the beautiful unis that the mid-70s Penguins wore for far too short a time.

    “…although of course it’s sad and ridiculous that women of that era were stuck wearing puffy bloomers instead of shorts.”

    From back to the future, where McFly goes back to 1955 wearing an orange puffy vest: “Hey Biff, get a load of this guy’s life preserver. Dork thinks he’s gonna drown.”

    Happy Friday!

    The FB Live event was fun to watch. I especially loved that there was a Wisconsin connection to the first few items you talked about. :)

    Just a small thing: The comment section I was participating in (and saw many others chatting in) didn’t seem to be making it to you. The questions you answered weren’t posted where I was looking and there were plenty of other Q’s in there that went without an A. I know you couldn’t answer EVERYTHING but it appeared that there were two separate comment queues. I DID see the official Uni Watch FB page interacting with a few of the comments I saw so I know they weren’t going nowhere, but it was sad that you apparently weren’t seeing them.

    I know, I know, Facebook algorithms don’t show everyone everything, but it was a tad frustrating. Not frustrating enough for me to not tune in for the next one, but a small annoyance.

    I’m really glad anytime something gets added to the “Women’s Sports” category that I didn’t write (I had the last two before this one).

    With the talk of building a new MSG .Have you ever looked at the logo history of Madison Square Garden! link

    Newer reader, maybe covered before. Caitlin is always referred to as the “Uni Watch girl mascot”. Is there a Uni Watch boy mascot?

    There used to be — Caitlin’s brother Tucker:
    link

    An incredibly nice guy — I miss him so much. I continue to call Caitlin the “girl mascot” as a way of remembering Tucker, even though she’s now the only mascot.

    I enjoyed the live event, sorry if I asked too many questions, lol. I dug the green stirrups and the Red Devils jersey. I’ll be at the next one. Would it be possible to do 1 hour instead of half an hour?

    MLB had many rebrandings. Kansas City Wizards to Sporting Kansas City is an example. I know you stuck with MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL though. Also, NCAA was omitted.

Comments are closed.