( Originally Published 1924 )
The sportswoman of to-day has several varieties from which to choose the pièce de resistance of her sports wardrobe. One is the jaunty suit, often a gay plaid with lambskin collar and cuffs for chilly weather, or it may be one of Scotch tweed, home-spun, or all knitted. With the suit may be worn a short cape which blends with one of the plaid colors.
This sport suit has somewhat of a collegiate air. There is something strikingly different about it. Buckles may be used instead of buttons to give a more swagger air if that is desired.
If the sportswoman prefers a two-piece dress, there is one whose plain skirt wears with it a long blouse of the same material. It has a mannish collar to be worn with a man's four-in-hand tie, which may match the trimming of the two pockets. This costume is often of heavy silk, wash flannel, or one of the wool-fabrics which, because of their woolly roughness, are especially suited to sports clothes.
Another choice is the one-piece dress. It may be straight and plain, with a little shirring or pleats at the sides to give width to skirt and variety to the design. This dress usually has a high collar effect which can be worn closed with a bright tie, or the neck may be left open with a smart little vest crossed over like a man's, or it may have a shield and a long ribbon under the collar tied in a bow, or there may be a neck line which will permit one to wear collar-and-cuff sets of endless variety.
Slender women have a special fondness for skirts with which they may wear any number of different sweaters, jackets, and coatees. The skirts may be either plain or plaited plaids; soft silk shirt and four-in-hand tie complete the outfit. The shirt often has a plaited, vest-like front, or the shirt may be plaited and the vest left plain; it may also have collars and cuffs like those on a man's shirt.
The skirts are often fastened to a bodice by in-visible buttons.
There are various kinds of short little coats and longer ones, too, of soft wool, hand-woven tweed, or of suède leather lined with lamb. These coats may have added capes which match, or the cape may be worn separately. The cape may be outwardly plain and yet be very gay under the surface. A novel cape is fitted over the shoulders, has a shawl collar of wolf, and pockets where the hands can hide as they venture out of the six-inch openings. Capes coming just below the hips or just below the knees often match the dresses with which they are worn. Many of these capes have long attached scarfs of self-material.
For the trimming of sport coats, serviceable furs, such as badger, raccoon, and wolf, are used.
Sport shoes include heavy "spring heeled" ox-fords with winged tips and winged heel, or they may be some which have a fringed apron, low broad heels, and cleats which remind one of football. Shoes with one strap may be worn instead of ox-fords. These often have a harness buckle on the side. Sealskin, alligator skin, and other novel materials are used in sports shoes. A low-heeled plain slipper may have a bright strap of red leather over the instep, which demands an answering note some-where in the costume. Brogues of heavy pebbled calf are especially suited to the golf links.
Bars and stripes often adorn sports stockings, which are generally of heavy lisle or wool. The hose usually repeat some color-note of the costume which is sufficiently pleasing to be repeated.
Wool-fabric, felt, or suède are used for the hats which are jaunty and non-crushable. They may be plain or they may requisition a gay ribbon band, some chenille embroidery, or a bright little feather or wing. For skating and skiing and tobogganing there are the knitted caps or those of fur. For swimming—only mermaids can guess what the next caprice will be.
Gloves are generally gauntlet style to match the color of the neck-wear or one's shoes. Those of flexible doeskin with leather reenforced fingers or knuckles are excellent for the golfer. For motoring, gloves should be very warm but not clumsy. They should strap or button closely about the wrists.
Men's handkerchiefs with plaid borders are very jaunty but large plain handkerchiefs with colored monograms are popular too. A change purse, a vanity case, preferably of pocket size, a chiffon or Shetland veil for motoring, the aforementioned scarf, no jewelry, are correct accessories.
The woman who really plays tennis wears clothes that are just as comfortable as the old time sweater and skirt, and is charming and cool. Crêpe de Chine in cream or colors makes a simple one-piece frock, or a plaited skirt of wool or silk in cream with over-blouse of silk in cream or colors. Knitted one-piece or two-piece costumes of silk, fiber silk, or chiffon wool are comfortable and attractive.
For in-between sets there is a knitted cape, or a separate jacket, brilliantly colored if the woman is young, or in soft colors if she no longer possesses the first bloom of youth. The jackets may be of wool fabric, brushed wool, or the knitted buttoned short coat. Naive patterns rule—stripes vertical and horizontal, the gayer the better. Shoes must be flat heeled, but the upper part may have varied color combinations. A delightful dash of color for an all-white costume would be a gay Deauville kerchief knotted about the head, with the ends fastened over the ear.
Heather tweeds are intertwined in our thoughts with the Scotch-American game of golf. With a three-piece tweed suit, is generally worn a heavy silk shirt when it is warm, or a sweater or knitted jacket when it is cool; heavy brogue oxfords and woolen hose, a soft hat of tweed or felt (perhaps a hat with a tweed brim and a suède top, or all suède, with a pheasant breast at the side). So one is on her mark now and all set for the game.
The ones who watch the game will dress as the player, and get the blithe spirit of the caddy as they stalk about.
Certain sport clothes belong to no particular sport. College girls, especially those who have their own village and campus life, enjoy these carefree clothes as much as the English woman.
Sport clothes usually demand rough woolen fabrics without glint or glisten, and also a weather-resisting quality such as tweeds, kasha, jersey, knitted materials, soft suède. Festival colors, such as gay plaids or stripes, attract the young ones, but the older woman had better consider the soft pile fabrics in less hilarious tones. Nature is generally a safe guide to follow in one's choice of grays of twilight. Sometimes colors may combine to suggest the tones of an autumn woods in the rain. The scarf may be a cheerful little splash of color.
Sturdy shoes and hose, and the hat which folds easily, are the ones to accompany a walking or motoring trip through the mountains. Two hours a day of tramping with such sensible clothes will do more to revive faded faces than all the beauty parlors in the city.
For a climb over the hills, one would choose a comfortable outfit of Scotch tweed, consisting of hip-length coat, knickers, soft hat, silk shirt and four-in-hand tie, heavy golf stockings, brogue ox-fords, leather gauntlet gloves, and an Alpine stick.
The woman who goes skating or skiing should be free, graceful, and agile. From the lumberjacks of the Michigan woods comes the idea for a practical outfit for winter sports. Skiing boots are high moccasins, laced and fur-topped, and worn over heavy wool golf hose. The hose may have stripes, with striped turn-over tops, or the stripes at the top may go around in contrast to the up-and-down design of the legs. The trousers are like those of an army captain in their cut, but the tight knee permits the hose to overlap and keep out the snow; the trousers overlap the woolen shirt. A sash as-sures warmth, as it is tied tightly around the waist with crossed ends hanging to the knees. Around the neck is a scarf akin to that of the waist. A close-fitting cap may repeat the color of the scarf and look as if it were made from pieces that were left over. Warm gauntlet mittens come up over the wrists. At first glance it would seem to be quite a task to get into this costume, but in fact nothing is simpler. The costume may be varied; for example, by substituting a sweater or belted-in jacket of suède, or topping the shirt with a short soft fur coat; or a scarf for the head instead of the cap. For winter sports one must not dress too warmly; the Esquimo garment is in accord with his temperament of repose, but for active sports, heavy furs become a burden.
Sleighing parties are not as popular to-day as the ones of the "I-was-seeing-Nellie-home" period, be-cause being sophisticated seems to take away some of one's spontaneous joy. But in case such a pastime is rejoined to popular favor, the long fur coats of opossum or muskrat are absolutely "there." Heavy high laced boots may be needed for wading through snow drifts.
The clothes for this game are chosen more for comfort than for appearance. Nothing is quite so suitable as a knitted suit of angora. This consists of a sweater (the over-the-head kind with small buttons to give greater snugness at the neck), knickers, cut rather full at the top, and a scarf, stockings, hat, and gloves—all alike. A costume of tan is very popular ; with this, one should wear a saucy bow of red ribbon on the hat to give an added sparkle to the face beneath.
Another Snow-maiden costume is one with white angora skirt and gloves connected by a three-quarter length coat in Indian designs of scarlet, purple, and white. The high collar, deep cuffs, and tam-o' shanter hat of white rabbit fur give a very picturesque effect.
There is no better opportunity for a woman to look graceful than when she is skating. The icy background helps her to make the most of her silhouette. She may decide to be a vivid picture in full-plaited short skirt of red, a vermilion pull-on wool-jersey jacket trimmed with patches of brilliant embroidery, and a little cap to match which is bordered with the black astrakan fur which finishes the bottom of her sweater. The black astrakan collar sets off the colors of the brilliant embroidered square yoke which reaches just below the joining of the sleeve. Warm gloves come up well over the wrists, and the mustard colored hose, a repetition of a certain color in the embroidered motif, are a good foil for the high flexible black skating boots.
This colorful costume is contrasted with a white one trimmed with bands of skunk. The white does not stand out so plainly as the vivid colors against the white, but the dark fur trimming, black shoes, hat, and large muff outline the white completely, and thus make most clear-cut the grace of the skater against the blue-white ice. Skaters may copy those who ski and wear short wool socks rolled over their shoe-tops, but these detract somewhat from the slim grace of the skater.
The side-saddle was never discarded by that greatest of all sports lovers whose authority on smart sporting outfits is so correct—the English-woman! It has returned of late to American favor.
The American woman rides both ways, on a man's saddle or on a side-saddle. Somehow the side-saddle seems more feminine.
The costume for the side-saddle consists of a skirt which, as one stands in side view, has a fold coming up from the back as a wrap-round skirt with a circular flare and drapery. The coat is very tailored, and repeats the skirt's flare. It comes just below the hips. Shoulders and collar are as care-fully fitted as the best man-tailored garment. A stiff black hat with straight brim or a tricorn hat is worn, secured by a rubber band which passes under the knot of hair at the back or under the chin. Boots, heavy gloves, not necessarily gauntlets, a shirt, and stock collar, with long pin holding the cravat securely where it crosses, are parts of the ensemble. The coat may have one or two but-tons ; a waistcoat of color gives dash to the whole appearance.
The costume for the one who rides astride is much the same, except that now trousers are worn, usually contrasting with the coat in a lighter tone f the same or in a checked material. They may e laced or buttoned at the knee. A soft hat is worn. For summer, one's riding clothes are of thinner materials, but of the same cut and tone.
High boots should fit the leg as well as the foot.
People who have attended horse races for years often protest against the magnificence which is dislayed in the costuming of certain ones who are newcomers in the fashionable world. Correct costumes for the races are simple ones, characterized, however, by smartness as well. For hats, anything may be worn that is not too elaborate. Many coats and some suits are seen.
At the Horse Show, riding habits are most in evidence, those which are worn for riding astride or for the side-saddle. Sports clothes are also suitable.
For aquatic sports there is nothing more comfortable or suitable than the one-piece bathing-suit of knitted wool. Wool is the best fabric for garments worn in the water, because it furnishes necessary warmth. A rubber diving cap goes with the swimming suit. This cap is made more attractive by covering it with a bright-colored kerchief whose mate could be knotted about the waist.
Shoes protect the feet from sharp pebbles and give opportunity for an added color note; but when one is swimming, they become a handicap.
In selecting beach costumes, a woman must seriously consider her own physical assets and liabilities, lest she become ridiculous in the eyes of her beholders. For, if the truth be told, there are many strange sights on the golden sands of southern beaches which detract from the picture.
The beach costume is sometimes of velvet, with cap and capes to match, or of one piece taffeta, or of silk jersey with a short peplum and shirred knickers, or of gingham, or of printed silk. One has an almost unlimited choice in texture and color.
A stout woman or one who is not young should wear stockings that blend with her costume.