Throughout the Twenties, fashion was over the moon about tennis, taking the expression quite literally with the invention of a new garment by Carl Bonwit. Dubbed (and patented) Over the Moon, the skirt-bloomer hybrid scored a major marketing coup when tennis star “Molla” Bjurstedt Mallory became its spokeswoman of sorts. “Mrs. Mallory is wearing in her tennis matches the ‘Over the Moon’ model, designed in unbleached muslin, and she also has the same feature in a pongee frock,” read a 1921 report in WWD. The paper also closely followed the fashions of player-turned-style-icon Suzanne Lenglen. It was all part of a larger trend toward active living; the public got sportier, and so did its clothes. Even in eveningwear, observed Lucien Lelong in 1923, “[the woman] is abandoning draperies and ornaments in sumptuous and cumbrous lines. In order to respond to this taste of the moment, therefore, the couturier succeeds in giving more and more ease of movement.” Another article in 1924 reported how “sports types”—for example, knit dresses and jumpers—were replacing “fluffy finery” and “garden party frocks” on Ascot Sunday. Jean Patou, who helped pioneer the sportswear style, remarked that “the woman of the past generation had but two objects in life—to be a mother [and] to be a coquette. Now times have changed. All women indulge more or less in sports.”
No movement is without its detractors. “Sports clothes,” an unnamed Paris designer griped to WWD in 1926, “encourage careless habits of attire.”
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.