Back around the Turn of the Century, fashion dictated that you run around the tennis courts in layers upon layers of clothes. That made you look elegant when you moved. If you could move.
I can only imagine the thousands of words that have been written by scholars of women’s studies about the Virginia Slims ad campaign and their crazy mixed message of “You’ve come a long way,” and then, “baby.” So I’ll leave that issue to others and just talk a bit about the clothes.
In case you are not old enough to actually remember the ads, they put a recreated scene from the past showing how it was for women in the “good old days,” and then the way it was in the early 70s after women got their own cigarette. The recreated scenes showed an interesting mishmash of Edwardian looking clothing on women who were usually sneaking a smoke.
In the “old” photo above the two tennis players do look overdressed, so what were women wearing to play tennis in 1905? According to tennis player Violet Sutton:
But it’s a wonder we could move at all. Do you want to know what we wore? A long undershirt, pair of drawers, two petticoats, white linen corset cover, duck shirt, shirtwaist, long white silk stockings, and a floppy hat. We were soaking wet when we finished a match.*
So change these women into white stockings (and shoes as well) and it looks to be fairly close to Violet’s memories.
*Interview with Violet Sutton recounted in “The Sutton Sisters” by Jeane Hoffman, published in Fireside book of Tennis, 1974, quoted in When the Girls Came out to Play, Patricia Campbell Warner, 2006