Sports in Fashion? Actually Groundbreaking

Apparently, we're reliving our varsity years this season.

sports inspired fashion

If the past year has taught us one thing, it's that sometimes we must get creative to spark a little joy. Rather than seemingly endless nights out in the city or jet-setting halfway across the world to attempt relaxation, we rediscovered simplicity and realized sometimes we need to look inside ourselves—or, better yet, outside nearby—to find a bit of fun. And with that, say hello (again) to sports.

Typically, fashion and sports aren't the most natural pairing. Fashion, an industry known for its creativity and glamour, is not always a match for the uniform-specific attire of many sports. Sure, we've taken inspiration from equestrianism and integrated a touch of Wimbledon all-white prep into our closets in the past, but this time around, the breadth of sporting options touching the mainstream has reached a record high.

With our new affinity for comfort-driven dressing, it's no surprise that we're seeking out interesting influences that add a touch of whimsy to the tried-and-true. So, sports in fashion? Actually, pretty groundbreaking.

Currently, it's no secret that tennis has been on the top of everyone's minds—to the extent that the term "tennis core" was coined. Thanks to Gen-Z, tennis-inspired fashion became a quick hit this spring/summer season. Between the $17 Amazon tennis skirt going viral on TikTok, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka pulling out of the French Open while making a stand for mental health, and Kendall Jenner becoming the ultimate influencer for Alo tennis sets, this trend has undoubtedly reigned supreme when it comes to sports-inspired dressing.

Even before tennis core's moment of internet fame, the fashion world has been slowly integrating the influence. We have Chris Evert to thank for conceiving the term "tennis bracelet" after losing her bracelet at the U.S. Open in the '80s, plus brands like Lacoste who are rooted in the sport. Lacoste was actually founded by tennis player René Lacoste from an updated take on the polo shirt. Now the brand still creates tennis gear as well as seamlessly integrates tennis inspiration in their ready-to-wear collections. Other labels who helped stylishly spark tennis core for SS21 were the likes of David Koma, who quite literally hosted their SS21 show on a court, Maison Kitsuné, Amiri, and Prada.

As temperatures will inevitably become cooler and our outdoor interests shift, expect to evolve how we're channeling a sporty take on style, too. Aprés-ski dressing was a staple amongst the influencer set last winter—and judging from the fall 2021 runways, we're sure to see this trend continue. Fashion-forward ski suits consisting of luxury logos and bold shades of cherry red and cobalt blue were the standard, but we'll see this evolve both on and off the slopes. In the literal sense, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton showed ski-ready wear in pastels like baby blue, butter yellow, and soft pink; but for day-to-day dressing, we'll be integrating this trend most easily through accessories. You can bet on statement scarfs, hats, and cozy mittens to liven up cold-weather outfitting as well as shield shades that could easily take you from slopes to streets in a '70s-meets-sports manner from Schiaparelli, Acne Studios, Balmain, and Max Mara—to name a few.

Another sport that has pieces well suited for the cooler months while basically upholding the opposite aesthetic of ski: ballet. Similarly to tennis, ballet satisfies our craving for pretty and whimsy, yet simultaneously provides the practicality of comfort.

Looking back to last winter, you may recall the influx of boleros/shrugs/sweater sleeves (call them what you may) that hit the market right towards the end of the season. An industry secret: That's a great indicator that similar styles will be up-trending the following year. After its introduction resonated with shoppers, we can be sure that they'll be back in our favorite retailers' assortment (and our carts) again this time around.

Other ballet-inspired apparel that will surely take center stage are tops and sweaters with waist wraps like we've seen at Orseund Iris and Dannijo, leggings and leotards that made appearances on the runways of Rick Owens, Emilio Pucci, and Christian Cowan, as well as the classic ballet flat. Brands are making these once "cheugy" shoes cool again by adding a square toe, ruching, embellishments, or prints. Keep your eyes on Pretty Ballerinas, Yuni Buffa, rag & bone, and Khaite for brands who are doing this well.

And finally, the sport we're looking to as the next iteration of "tennis core": golf. When thinking about golf and fashion, it's hard to get past the idea of polo tops and khakis. Until recently, when it came to dress code, the sport has kept up many of its traditional notions; but as more of us opted for outdoor activities during COVID, interest in the sport and democratization of its "uniform" has allowed an opportunity for self-expression.

An unlikely duo, the most impactful (and pretty damn cool) influence on the evolution of "golf fashion" is streetwear. Young brands like Whim Golf and Malbon Golf have brought a bit of much-needed edge to the market, as well as young players like Brooks Koepka, who simply stated, "It's fashion, bro" when questioned about his Off-White golf shoes.

Outside of the green, the women's market has begun to integrate sport classics like Bermuda-length shorts à la Princess Di and "exercise dresses" (see Outdoor Voices for this) into everyday apparel. And the aesthetic made an appearance in collections of trendsetting labels like Miu Miu, Todd Snyder, Dirty Pineapple, BOSS, and Marine Serre—each with their own unique spin. As the trend evolves, it's sure to be one to watch for a modern take on ever-classic prep.

All in all, if actual sports still aren't quite your thing, maybe stick to inspired fashion instead—that's undoubtedly where you'll find me.

Shop the story:

Pique Straight Polo Dress

Maison Kitsuné
$205 $144

Le Club Top

Orseund Iris

Wrap Ballet Cardigan

$220 $130


Pretty Ballerinas
$299 $179


Yuni Buffa

The Exercise Dress

Outdoor Voices
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