Pour le Sport

Illustration

During the early years of the 1920s, women who wished to participate in sports assembled their wardrobes from menswear since there were few options commercially available. Popular literature of this time, such as Flaming Youth (1923), The Green Hat (1924), and The Great Gatsby (1925), all featured female characters whose sports clothes were seen as emblematic of their modernity and possessing an alluring sexual ambiguity. This association was reinforced by the rise of celebrity athletes such as tennis champion Suzanne Lenglen (who was famously dressed by Patou), swimmer Trudy Ederle, and aviator Ruth Elder. Within a few short years, sportswear was its own category in a well-dressed women's wardrobe. Many French couturiers, led by the insightful Patou, Chanel, and Lelong, produced sports clothes "Pour le Sport" ("for the sport") and incorporated sportswear materials and elements such as wool jersey, tweed, and a wide assortment of knits into their daywear.