We’ve come to a point of acceptance today where women are typically able to wear whatever they want while exercising or taking part in any other athletic activities. In the past, however, this was not the case. It’s safe to say that we have come a long way on the path of women’s rights and the acceptance of individuality. Going back all the way to the 1800s and earlier, women were expected to wear things we might consider rather strange to wear for athletic activities.

Taking it Back to the 1800s

Could you imagine exercising in a dress? Most women today would probably agree that a dress might not be the most comfortable option for any sort of athletic movement. In the 1800s, women were expected to wear their typical large skirts when exercising. Of course, their activities were likely not nearly as extreme as some performed today. Regardless of what their exercises were, however, the skirts must have been very restricting.

Women’s Sportswear in the 1900s

Women’s sports became more popular in the 1900s with the playing of golf and tennis. Even though society gave women a small bit of athletic spotlight, however, they were still expected to wear long skirts and restricting tops for the first ten to twenty years of the century. The 1920s brought shorter skirts to the mix thanks to a tennis player by the name of Suzanne Lenglen. In the 1930s, Alice Marble continued the trend of more comfortable clothes by wearing shorts for tennis.

The Invention of Stretchy Fabric

1945 was a beautiful year for athletic wear with the invention of stretchy fabric. The fabric was originally used for pullover dresses and underwear, but the invention soon moved into sportswear territory. By the time the 1960s came around, stretchy athletic clothing was trendy and finally allowed women to feel comfortable while exercising for, perhaps, the first time in hundreds of years.

Women’s Sportswear in Today’s Society

With all of the progress we’ve made in fashion, it’s no surprise that women can wear whatever they want now to exercise. In fact, you could probably exercise in your underwear and nobody in a gym would bat an eyelash. There are plenty of stores open now that provide all sorts of sportswear styles. A quick search through Skins new arrivals for women can easily find you exactly the outfit you’ll feel most comfortable with, whether you’re going for a run or to a hot yoga class.

Next time you’re trying to pick out sportswear, remember the history of the fashion and appreciate how far we have come. When you pull on a pair of comfortable leggings before you hop on the treadmill, just know that two hundred years ago, you would have been wearing a large dress instead.

Byron Benton
Author

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