What’s Styling | The evolution of golf apparel
Golf fashion can be traced as far back as the 1500’s. Prior to the huge shift in golf fashion in the 1950’s, (a notable trend setter being Arnold Palmer), golfers made zero effort to wear clothing that was suited to the game of golf. What the golfers did focus on was distinguishing themselves from non golfers and those they had dubbed as less affluent than themselves, through the way they dressed. Golfers therefore played in formal jackets, ties, wide legged trousers and shiny shoes. None of which were conducive to good movement, performance or comfort. This is how the trend of having knee height stockings emerged, simply to prevent the trousers from interfering with the golf clubs path to the ball.
You only have to look at photos of Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller to get an understanding of what golf fashion was all about in the 70’s. Brown trousers, usually made of polyester, mock turtlenecks and houndstooth patterned shirts were in fashion.
Golfers in the 50’s tucked their trousers into their socks.
Enter the 1990’s and this is where we see the first examples of sponsored clothing in golf. One glance at footage of Tiger Woods in action during the 90’s will see him wearing mostly block colours but with the Nike logo on show. Tommy Hilfiger was another leading clothes manufacturer which got involved in golf fashion design in the 90’s with other sporting brands such as Head and Le Coq Sportif.
As professional golf reached new audiences thanks to the increase in live television coverage, Tiger’s red shirt which he always wore on a Sunday quickly became famous. This led many amateur and recreational golfers to follow in the footsteps of Woods by wearing a red shirt when in action on the golf course.
With more and more people watching golf on television it became a great opportunity for clothing sponsorships.
However, the overall trend on the golf course, especially in the early 90’s was loose fitting attire. One could go as far to say the fashion was essentially baggy clothes.
Tom Watson, Paul Azinger, Nick Price and Corey Pavin are all examples of golfers who wore clothes on the course that were often so baggy, they could fit inside them twice. The trousers especially were not the most flattering, but that is not to say the players did not experiment with different colours. Whether it was bold block colours or stripes, polo style shirts were very much the rage, with smart collars and hemmed sleeves.
Despite the trend, there was one man who retained the vintage golf look throughout the 90’s until his sad death in 1999. Payne Stewart teamed plus fours and stockings with newsboy caps and he was a sight to behold on golf courses around the world.In many ways it is a shame golfers in the 2000’s did not continue Stewart’s theme (Bryson DeChambeau to some degree and tributes as the exception) but as we entered the new millennium, performance became paramount in golf fashion design.
In comparison to the 90s, the garments were lighter and moisture-wicking, keeping the golfer cool and dry in hot conditions. The transition between the late 90’s and the early 2000’s was when we saw the movement from clothing which was being worn by golfers and clothing which was being designed specifically for golfers.
Between 2000 and 2010 especially, golfers started to wear clothes which were functional and designed for the sole purpose of playing golf. Several sports brands got involved in designing golf clothing, much of which was created to allow players to perform at their best, regardless of the conditions. Maximum golf performance was the overriding factor but things started to change again as we entered the next decade.
Baseball caps have become more common place, along with tapered fit trousers and polo shirts. Not only are these garments designed to allow players to reach maximum performance but they are designed to look good on or off the golf course. Some players choose to maintain a relaxed fit to their attire but that may have something to do with body shape rather than a dislike of the current fashion trends. The large belt buckle on show is another recent addition to the wardrobe of some golfers. Whereas golf sponsorship has been a big deal on hats for many years, the addition of sponsorship on belt buckles is something new and again coincides with television coverage.
We are into 2020 and many of the leading golf fashion brands like to showcase what their players are wearing for every tournament, especially the majors. This includes footwear and some golfers, such as Rickie Fowler for example, choose to wear golf shoes which look more like trainers or sneakers.
There is no doubt, over the past 30 years, golf fashion has changed dramatically. The increase in television exposure and in some respects the diversity of people playing the game have contributed to the current trends.
Golf trends have developed massively, and there are no signs of it slowing down. Make sure you don’t get left behind, stay on trend and join the pack!
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