Tag Archives: basketball

Update: 1920s Gingham Romper

I posted my thoughts about this 1920s romper back in June. One of the things I wrote was this:

So rompers definitely were a thing for women, at least in the 1920s and 1930s. Still, I don’t agree with calling a gym suit a romper, no matter how much the garment is similar.

But then last week I found a real shocker in a 1926 high school yearbook.

These are the girls of the Gainesville Athletic Club at Gainesville High School in Florida. Could it be these were the actual basketball uniforms? It is hot in Florida, so maybe they adapted the usual bloomer suit into a light cotton garment.

I do need to make sure you notice that the suits are not identical, though they do seem to be made from the same fabric. And what’s with those belts?

It does pay to keep an open mind when it comes to the past. The minute we start saying “never” and “always” we run into trouble.

I also want to give a big thank you to all the kids over the past one hundred years who worked tirelessly on the yearbook committee. I don’t collect yearbooks, but anytime I run across an older one I always thumb through it to see if I can spot anything interesting. This time I was really rewarded.  Along with several yearbooks dating from the 1920s through the 40s, someone donated a series of photograph albums from the same years to Goodwill. It all ended up in the bins, and while I didn’t buy any of it, the guy who put them in his cart kindly let me photograph some really great photos.


Filed under Curiosities, Gymnasium, Proper Clothing, Rest of the Story, Sportswear

Edwardian Basketball Attire

A month or so ago someone posted on a public vintage clothing board about women wearing turtlenecks.  She had found a vintage turtleneck in a thick wool, and the label looked to be older than the 1930s, but she didn’t know if the turtleneck had been around for that long.   Adding to the confusion is the fact that turtlenecks are so associated with the 1960s.

But sure enough, the turtleneck has been around as a sportswear item for over 100 years.  It’s hard for us today to imagine wearing such a bulky, heavy sweater to play basketball in, but then again, we’d not be wearing a corset either, like the girl in my drawing above!

The bottom part of her ensemble isn’t showing very much, but chances are she is wearing a pair of voluminous bloomers.  It was the advent of organized team sports, in particular, basketball, that banished the skirt from the gym. Basketball was invented in 1891, and by mid-decade, the game was being played at most women’s colleges. Previously, women had worn long bloomers under a skirt for gym exercise.

Basketball was just too vigorous to be played in so many bulky clothes, so the skirt went, and the bloomers were shortened to just below the knee. Still, if leaving the gym, the women had to wear a skirt over the bloomers. It was just not acceptable to be seen wearing pants. (As a side note, this is the reason women’s field hockey teams have always worn skirts. The game was played outside, and so a skirt must be worn.)

It just goes to show how valuable antique photos and prints are in seeing what people actually wore.  I have a hard time passing up a pile of old photos, because I just never know what sort of treasure will be found in it!

Illustration is from an antique postcard in my personal collection.


Posted by Payj:

Thanks for this! I had wondered if turtlenecks were around in the 30s! And how interesting to learn they played basketball!

Sunday, July 5th 2009 @ 2:31 PM

Posted by Meec:

I couldn’t imagine she’d be comfortable for too long playing basketball in a thick turtleneck !I wonder how many sports playing ladies fainted in that kind of outfit ?

Tuesday, July 6th 2010 @ 6:16 PM

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Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing