When it’s Olympics time at Judy HQ, we’re thinking three things. First things first, it’s marvelling at how many great sportsmen and women we’ve produced on such a tiny island. Second, it’s deciding that we DEFINITELY need to get back in the gym. But Third, it’s checking out all those sleek, colourful sporting outfits and wondering where such fabulous garments originated. So without further ado (and no chatting at the back), here is our whistlestop tour of how Olympic fashion has developed over time.
Not considering it’s ancient greek incarnations, the Olympics were originally introduced in the late 1800s. Women’s involvement was still very much taboo and the event was nowhere near the globally-incorporating event it is today. Athlecticwear was pretty much non-existent as competitors were expected to wear their ‘sunday best’ – they’re nothing streamlined about these outfits!
By 1932, the classic ‘Olympian’ look was starting to be established – think preppy Americana with modest hemlines and big ‘champion’ smiles. Fabrics were still somewhat limited and colours muted but the ‘track and field’ silhouette was starting to take shape, a look that was to last well into the late 1900s.
Like all fashions and homewares, sportswears saw a huge shift in the 60s – suddenly colour, pattern and texture was in. Gymnastic uniforms were the first to get the full glitter and polyester treatment, and athletes began to show a little more personality with skimpy fits, of-the-era hairstyles, jewellery and accessories.
Ah, the decade of patriotism! The glitter and glam of midcentury remained, but as the Olympic Games entered an era of commercialisation that saw it beamed into the homes of millions around the world, it became more important than ever for Olympians to show their country colours. This is when ‘flag outfits’ truly began, as exemplified by this iconic star-spangled-banner look from 1984.
As we rolled into the 90s, the exercise craze of the 80s lived on, and olympic outfits started to resemble what we were wearing on the street. The windbreaker suit became a staple look for off-duty Olympians, with Nylon high on the agenda. If you’re after a replica, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was merchandised heavily, meaning that even now these items sometimes crop up at our kilo sale – worth looking out for!
Athleisurewear is now firmly bedded in our consciousness, and with significant advances in fabric technology, there is more demand than ever for sporting attire to look and feel great for the wearer, creating a bodily environment that allows them to perform to the best of their ability. Designer collaborations are coming in thick and fast – just look at Great Britain’s Rio 2016 uniform as designed by Stella McCartney. Finally, sportswear has it’s very own place in fashion, and it’s obtainable for us ‘normal’ people too – even if we can only manage a few reps in the gym before hitting the McDonalds drive-through.
Fancy a hunt for your own slice of Olympics fashion? Check out our upcoming events here –
- Glasgow Vintage Clothing Kilo Sale – 20 Aug 2016
- The East London Vintage Furniture Flea – 4 Sep 2016
- Edinburgh’s Affordable Vintage Fair – Freshers Special – 16 Sep 2016
- St. Andrew’s Affordable Vintage Fair – 18 Sep 2016
- Lincoln’s Affordable Vintage Fair – 24 Sep 2016
- Glasgow’s Affordable Vintage Fair – 24 Sep 2016
- Manchester Vintage Clothing Kilo Sale – 24 Sep 2016
- Edinburgh’s Affordable Vintage Fair – 25 Sep 2016
- Liverpool Vintage Kilo Sale – 25 Sep 2016
- The Leeds Vintage Furniture Flea – 25 Sep 2016
- UCLU’s Affordable Vintage Fair – Freshers Special – 29 Sep 2016
- Leicester’s Affordable Vintage Fair- Fresher’s Special! – 30 Sep 2016