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Michelle Wie putts during the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Md. As a new generation of women take up golf, both on the LPGA tour and on local greens, they've changed the look of the links.
AP photo by Gail Burton
Michelle Wie putts during the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Md. As a new generation of women take up golf, both on the LPGA tour and on local greens, they've changed the look of the links.

FASHIONABLE ON THE FAIRWAY: An all-in-one
Women’s golf clothes work on and off the course

By Samantha Critchell
AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK — As a new generation of women take up golf, both on the LPGA tour and on local greens, they've changed the look of the links.

In place of clothes that in some ways were just smaller versions of the men's, they've created a new breed of lifestyle clothing incorporating feminine styles that come in neutral-colored basics with pops of preppy colors, and are constructed from comfortable fabrics that can be worn from day to night.

The new players in the world of golf fashion, including Lija's Linda Hipp and Birdie's Kate Sutton, say they got in the design game because they had trouble finding clothes for themselves.

"I am a golfer since I was little," says Sutton. "As I grew older I found golf is enjoyable as a social sport. When I'd play with my guy friends, I'd look down at what I was wearing and looked at what they were wearing — and they really weren't much different. I knew I wasn't alone in feeling this way."

But changing the DNA of golf clothes isn't only a matter of adding trendier elements seen in street clothes. Golf clothes have to play by different rules since many courses — especially private country clubs — have conservative dress codes, requiring collared shirts, and shorts and skirts that hit no higher than an inch above the knee. And you can't look wrinkled and rumpled after 18 holes and hours in the sun if you want to hit the clubhouse afterward.

“There is a certain image to the game, you always wear appropriate dress and keep your manners in check,” says Hipp. From there, though, feel free to branch out into pop-art prints and some less-than-traditional silhouettes like dresses or sailor-style capris.

“One of our best sellers is an urban golf short,” Hipp says. “It goes down to the knee and has tee holders on the hip. The belt loops are Velcro so you can hook your club on — women love details like that that are fun and functional. But there’s a definite feminine shape and the legs are slightly tapered.”

Other popular pieces include the waistband-free Par skort that has deep pockets for “tees and ball markers — or lipgloss,” says Hipp. The Dista Uno dress, which has a fitted shape and a contrasting color around the V-neckline and front seam, is made of a lightweight nylon-Spandex fabric that has an SPF of 50.

“These are fashion styles that are golf friendly but not golf specific,” Hipp says.

The key item from Birdie’s summer collection is its polo dress, says company founder Sutton. “It has a modern feel. It has exaggerated buttons, a pocket for tees and it’s a wonderful weight so you don’t see your underwear line.”

Players haven’t become too concerned with pampering that they’ve forgotten why they’re there, though, Murschell says, crediting the top pros as leading the fashion-conscious charge. “Today’s tour players are the best thing to happen to women’s golf. They’re incorporating their own style into what had been traditional. Now every woman golfer wants her own signature style.”

What — or who — gave the LPGA players this newfound freedom? Male superstar Tiger Woods, says Birdie’s Sutton.

“Tiger Woods brought a lot of energy and attention to the sport,” she says. But it wasn’t until the likes of Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer came along that women had a stylish role model.

“This is what golf needed for so long,” Sutton adds.

Murschell adds a few other names: Christina Kim, who wears Pucci scarves on the green (and is sponsored by Keri Golf); Jennifer Rosales, who pushes limits with shorter shorts and low-riding waistbands; and Natalie Gulbis, star of her own sexy swimsuit calendar.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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