Cheeerleading Apparel

The History Of Cheerleading Apparel

By Ashley Lipman

Cheerleading Has Changed A Lot

It’s been widely acknowledged that eating right and exercising regularly are core to the full flourishing of an individual, and this is one reason cheerleaders are so venerated throughout the world. To be a cheerleader in the modern sense requires a great deal of dedication and practice of an exceptional athletic quality that simultaneously requires a carefully managed diet for greatest results.

But cheerleading as it is today is not cheerleading as it used to be. In fact, there has been a great deal of change over the years in terms of not just what cheerleaders do, but how they look while they’re doing it. It’s no secret that the sensuality of cheerleading uniforms has reached somewhat of a zenith today. But the role of cheerleader hasn’t always been so physiologically evocative.

Vintage Cheerleading Apparel

Around the year 1900, a cheerleading uniform was usually a large, non-athletic sweater with letters representing the organization of a given team sewn onto it. This sweater was worn over a skirt that stretched to the ankles. Oftentimes cheerleading squads weren’t only women, either—though this increasingly became the trend going forward.

According to this Wikipedia article, pom-poms weren’t widely sold to cheerleading squads until the late 1940s. But all that started to change as cheerleading became less of an exterior aspect of sporting events, and more of a primary component.

Titanic Shifts In Apparel Style

By the nineteen-fifties, the ankle-length skirts had been cut in half. Cheerleading sweaters with letters spelling the name of the team began to include the name of the cheerleaders beneath the larger letter. The sweaters became easier to move in, more closely conforming to the figures of the cheerleaders as well.

Sweaters got smaller in the 70s, and stripes started showing up all over the place, beginning to shadow what would soon be the “style” so intrinsic to cheerleading uniforms today. Things got tighter, too. Now cheerleaders would just wear a bra under their letter sweaters, rather than an undershirt. And everything became more form-fitting.

By the 1980s, things began to heat up a little bit. While high school cheerleading uniforms tended to retain certain trappings of modesty, in the college circuit outfits became more and more form-fitting. This did two things for cheerleaders at the time: it made their office of greater sensual import, and it provided them the ability to pursue greater and greater feats of athleticism.

It was at around this time that sneakers, rather than flat-soled shoes, began to become core to a cheerleader’s outfit. They had to be! You’ve likely seen some of the stunning athletic displays of today’s cheerleader. They’ll run, jump, dance, and generally move about with a great variety of motion that requires top-notch gear.

Today’s Uniforms

The entire uniform of a cheerleader today must be informed by components that allow for full movement while at the same time loudly proclaiming the colors and slogans of represented teams, and simultaneously spicing things up with some level of sensuality. Before, this was a natural byproduct of cheerleading. Now this byproduct has become a core component.

Accordingly, if you’re looking to buy cheerleading uniforms for your team, you need to take movement, visual elements, and sensuality into consideration. Also, apparel for cheerleading squads is often designed-to-order, and it’s got to be sturdy. Certainly squads don’t always practice in their uniforms, but even so, should they follow the team throughout its regular roster of games, those uniforms are going to get some use and abuse!

The uniforms will be sweat in, they’ll be stained, they’ll be stretched and scratched—even torn. Ideally, these things won’t affect wear, as garments will be sturdy enough to take some abuse while still having the characteristic appearance central to cheerleading garments.

What makes sense for teams of any level looking to find apparel that fits, that looks good, that is sturdy, and allows movement, is to work with the industry which has risen up around cheerleading across the nation and the world. Cheerleading is, after all, not isolated to any one country in the twenty-first century.

Remaining Contemporary

There are quite a few different providers of cheerleading apparel out there who can help your team find the best tops, bottoms, shoes, socks, and underwear for your cheerleading squad. Undergarments have shifted as the rest of cheerleading has—as shirts became shorter, many cheerleaders elected to wear form-fitting bicycle shorts beneath their skirts.

With all this in mind, one group worth considering as you seek the right kind of apparel is, who provide a great selection of cheerleading skirts for the team. Selection is important, because different teams will yet have restrictions pertaining to the kinds of uniforms they’re allowed to wear.

For example, collegiate teams are likely not going to have quite the same restrictions as high school teams, and when it comes to the national leagues, that which is restricted or “frowned on” may be very little indeed. With greater selection, you can find entire families of apparel that are appropriate for teams in any category of cheerleading performance.

Cheerleading is core to the modern American sporting experience, and as athletic events transition into future trends, so will cheerleading apparel. The world we live in now is changing rapidly, so the uniforms of 2018 may look as antiquated by 2068 standards as the uniforms of 1950 look today.  

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