Golf Fashion History

By Captain Thomsen on 21 Aug 2015

Golf has a reputation for producing some of the worst dressed athletes in the world.

Whilst the sport itself is recognised as one of the most elegant, many golfers appear determined to counterbalance their golfing expertise with an inept approach to dressing themselves for big tournaments.

However, despite the fact that golfers are universally derided for their lack of fashion sense, they have long considered their sport to be one of the finest platforms for making outrageous fashion statements.

Here is a brief history of the evolution of golf apparel and the more extreme statements that have been made in the name of golfing fashions:

 

1700-1900

The earliest golf players made no special effort to find suitable apparel for their sport. It is more than likely that the original golf kit consisted of kilts and animal skins, the apparel worn by the bored Scottish shepherds who invented the game.

By the time the European nobility developed a liking for the game, the apparel had changed to reflect the fashions popular amongst those who most frequently played the game. Golfers wore knee length breeches over stockings, sported tailcoats, and wore ruffled cravats around their necks.

 

1900-1925

Towards the end of the 19th century, the hems of men's trousers travelled inexorably downwards, until long trousers had become the most popular item of clothing in all sectors of society. Rather than embrace this change, golfers decided to mask it by tucking their trousers into long socks.

It was, therefore, not unusual to see early twentieth century golfers take to the links wearing a full morning suit, bar the hat, with their trouser bottoms stuffed into long socks. How the golfers coped with hot conditions is unknown, as few would have dared to discard their heavy jackets and ties, even under the muggiest of conditions.

 

1926-1950

By the 1920s, liberalisation of fashion for both genders had led to some changes in golf apparel. Golfers freed themselves of the most cumbersome item of clothing in their wardrobes, the formal jacket. Ties, however, were retained, along with the aforementioned practice of tucking trousers into socks.

It was during this period that the V-neck sweater became popular amongst those golfers prone to taking a chill. Some of the more daring golfers ditched ties in favour of bow-ties, combining these with severely low-cut V-necks and brightly patterned socks, in an apparent nod towards the apparel of the circus clown.

 

1950-1990

As the twentieth century rolled on, golfers belatedly realised that wearing their socks outside their trousers was much like wearing their underwear outside their trousers. While it would have come as no surprise if golfers had enthusiastically embraced the habit of doing the latter, common sense prevailed and golfers began to wear full-length trousers over their socks.

It was at around this time that they first started compensating for their increasingly sober apparel by injecting some colour into proceedings. Every colour imaginable was given a go by golfers during the 1970s, with golf's fashionistos often succeeding in embracing the most eye-jarring colour combinations.

 

1990-Present

As the end of the twentieth century approached, golfers began to tone down on their use of primary colours, and were sometimes seen on the golf course not looking in the least bit ridiculous. The entry of companies like Nike into the golf market helped matters, as dedicated fashion designers strove to iron out the lunatic edge in golf fashion by introducing well-cut polo shirts and baseball caps to proceedings.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs was not to prevail, and no sooner had mankind entered a new millennium, then retro fashions took hold of the golfing world, with ballooned trousers, garish colours, and visible socks making a comeback.

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