Fashion Statement: A Cornucopia of Options
We have so much to be thankful for when it comes to golf apparel, writes Bailey Chamblee
Golf apparel has come a long way. The fashion choices we have to wear on the course have expanded significantly over the past decade or two, and that is a positive development. In life, more isn’t always better, but in this case, it is: Having a greater variety of clothing options from which to choose makes golf more inclusive and keeps the sport moving forward. In the spirit of the season, here are six things I’m thankful for when it comes to the changing golf fashion landscape.
The end of ‘pink it and shrink it’
I experienced the “pink it and shrink it” days of golf apparel throughout high school and my first year of college. The material was heavy and harsh, the cuts were boxy and oversized, and you had to look elsewhere entirely for shorts that were even remotely feminine. Fortunately, modern golf apparel companies have evolved with the times, and these days, it’s more the exception than the norm to see women decked out in pink when they tee it up. I don’t know who first decided there needs be a separate set of measurements and guidelines tailored specifically for women, but to that person, we all owe you a great debt.
In this era of athleisure, golf apparel companies must offer clothes that can seamlessly transition to all parts of the day. These pieces can be worn for work, working out, yoga, happy hour, lounging on the couch, or running errands on the weekend. Modern men and women are multitaskers, and when we do have time to squeeze in some golf, we can’t be slowed down by having to transform into a golf costume. We expect a lot from our apparel, and golf clothiers are delivering the goods with regularity, taking us effortlessly through all aspects of our lives.
Loosening dress codes
I firmly believe that strict dress codes are one of the biggest deterrents for getting people into golf. I get that private clubs want to uphold a certain decorum and that a polished, conservative, and put-together look is part of the traditions of the game, but these rules do more harm than good when it comes to attracting new players. That’s why it’s so important for munis and public courses to allow for a wider spectrum of apparel options. Perhaps the most fashionable I ever felt on a golf course was earlier this year on a muni course in L.A. I wore a navy golf skort paired with an everyday, leopard print t-shirt with lime green accents; big, dangly earrings; and designer sunglasses. I felt like the truest expression of myself that day, and I didn't have to sacrifice who I was to fit some mold of what a golfer “should” look like. Hopefully, this loosening of dress codes continues to enable more people to take up the game.
Boutique brands entering the landscape
Big box companies—like Nike, Adidas, and Puma—continue to be staples in any golfer’s wardrobe, because we know we’re going to get quality pieces from those manufacturers season after season. But it’s also fun to see smaller, boutique brands come into the fold and disrupt the status quo. Some of the boutique brands in golf right now don’t follow typical product release cycles, so golfers are able to continually adapt and keep up with fast fashion—with an emphasis on “fashion.” These disruptors are coming in and changing all the rules, giving men and women options to wear on the fairways that break from convention. This, in turn, is causing some of the larger companies to take notice and adapt their own lines to be more modern and fashion forward, which is a win for the consumer.
I absolutely love wearing dresses—on and off the course. I could wear dresses every day of my life. Sun dresses, maxi dresses, cocktail dresses, wrap dresses, A-Line dresses, sweater dresses, high-low dresses, midi dresses... the list goes. I could go an entire 365 days wearing nothing but dresses, which is why I’m elated that the golf dress has become common vernacular in women’s golf offerings. They allow me to feel most like myself on the golf course: feminine, fashionable, fierce, and fabulous.
Apparel manufacturers in golf
I’ve been on the fashion beat for Golf Channel, and now Shop with Golf,
for the better part of a decade. I’ve emceed the fashion show at the PGA Merchandise Show dating back to 2014. In these roles, I acknowledge and give a sincere “Thank you” to everyone pushing golf apparel forward in terms of fashion, fit, function, technology, and ability to be transitional—essentially, everything we never knew we always wanted—and I want to reemphasize that notion here. Thank you for taking cues from street fashion and high fashion, and for integrating them into golf couture. Thank you for innovating with the latest and greatest technology in materials, to the point where we as consumers simply expect the product to perform without fully understanding how or why it does. Thank you for giving us so many options that, no matter our preferences, we can always find something we love to wear while playing golf. Thank you for continuing to reinvent yourselves and for helping us find ways to fall in love with the game through our apparel time and time again.
Photo credits: Courtesy Bailey Chamblee