Cleats Vs. Pleats
The Fashion eZine - Sports 'n' Fashion

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What's cooler – tennis or golf?

Tennis has the fashion-crazed Williams sisters – Serena once played the U.S. open in $40,000 diamond hoop earrings – and the ultrachic Anna Wintour, who rises at the crack of dawn to whack balls before heading to her office at Vogue.

Golf hasn't had much going for it in the women's style arena. But that's changing. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba and Heather Locklear are said to be hitting the greens. Style-concious players like Michelle Wie, who played in Sunday's LPGA championship wearing a hot pink minidress, are bringing some snap to the sport.

And frustrated golf divas are launching their own collections. Lynda Hipp is the designer of Lija (pronounced lee-zha), a snazzy golf line that features sophisticated colours and graphic prints.

"Ten years ago when we started, women's golfwear looked like miniature menswear – boxy polos and pleated shorts," Hipp says from her Vancouver headquarters. "But women are not shaped like boxes." So she cuts slimming cashmere-blend hoodies, tapered rosebud print polos, and long flat-front shorts in psychedelic graphic patterns.

"I really follow the fashion trends," Hipp says. "I look at interior design, I shop L.A. and New York. I look at the runways. And I roam the streets of Paris; that's where I get a lot of inspiration."

Of course you won't be seeing Balenciaga-style metal leggings and other out-there items on the links. "Golf is still relatively conservative. It's an old game with ideas of how you have to present yourself. So we don't step too far outside of the box."

Dress codes – such as collared shirts and shorts no higher than 5 inches above the knee – are adhered to. Still younger players don't want to look like their grandfolks.

"We're cool but we're golf-course friendly," says Geoff Tait, an ex-golf pro and co-founder of Quagmire Golf.

When Tait and partner Bobby Pasternak launched Quagmire last year, they were aiming at 20-something men and women like themselves. "We saw kids playing golf in Abercrombie and Fitch and Quicksilver ... so we decided to bring that surfer, skater look to golf."

The label has turned out to have broad age appeal and is already carried at 100 stores. "I haven't golfed once this year," Tait laments. "Our heads are spinning."

Spring looks include plaid and seersucker flat-front shorts and crinkled skirts, "like you could wear to the beach," Tait says. "Nobody else has done anything like that for golf. "

Not Rosemary Brdar. She launched Birdie Girl Golf (, a collection of golf bags and accessories for women, after falling in love with a golf nut.

"I want to bring some edginess to golf," says Brdar, who is also a hairstylist at the Rapunzel salon on Irwin Ave. "Players are younger and more fashion conscious. They are into clothing and hair."

Current styles include a sexy black patent duffle with pink trim and a camouflage print golf bag with hot pink graffiti. "It's more surf and wakeboard inspired than a traditional golf look." Birdie Girl is carried at Golf Town and branching into the U.S., Japan and Europe.

"I founded this company with a single, stubborn mission: To create a line where women were the focus, not the second thought," says Brdar. "Women need golf accessories that make them feel as fabulous as the latest designer handbag or sexy stiletto heels."

Court clothes cut to fit

Americans will wear anything on the tennis court, says Andrea Watley, designer of a new Toronto-based tennis wear line called Ace Collections.

"They play in cut-offs and cowboy hats," she remarks, rolling her eyes. Not so here in Canada, where many clubs outlaw more than 10 per cent colour in a player's outfit.

"They have colour police at these private clubs."

When Watley took up the game in mid-life, she found the standard miniskirts and tops revealed more tummy and thigh than she felt comfortable with. And the options were limited.

"I wore Nike and Adidas, but that's really all there is," she says. "Both are mass market and there is nothing special about them." So she founded Ace Collections, adding an inch to skirts and a shelf bra to tops. Tops are cut longer, too, with enough shoulder material to cover bra straps. Fabric is a sturdy Supplex that glides over lumps and bumps, Watley says.


Maria Sharapova talks Fashion

Leggings, tulle and drop-waisted dresses are the latest fashion faults to hit the tennis arena.

Serving up the most recent sportswear mayhem is Russian tennis glamour girl Maria Sharapova.

At the French Open this week, the noticeably more muscular tennis ace grunted around the court in a tulle Nike dress which looked more at home at an '80s school formal than a professional tennis match. But while it adds colour to the court, stylists and commentators have questioned whether fashion is impeding players' performance.

Adelaide stylist Samantha Reynolds said: "With all the jewellery and strange clothes they wear, it has to affect their game."

Other perennial fashion victims include sisters Serena and Venus Williams who regularly sport cut-out dresses, huge earrings and space-age boots. Ms Reynolds said spectators were also offenders. "When you see girls in high heels and mini-skirts, it is just wrong," she said.

Athletes as Fashion Endorsers

Athletes are considered the epitome of strength, agility and endurance. Their fashion style is often associated with sports apparel like jerseys, shorts and rubber shoes. Some athletes have turned into style icons.

Athletes are recognized worldwide as powerful and effective endorsers. Aside from gargantuan talent fees they command as athletes, a large part of their income comes from endorsements. Here are some well-known athletes with amazing fashion sense and with an even more amazing dollar power:

Topping the list is the gorgeous David Beckham who is always impeccably dressed. He is the only Englishman to score in three World Cups and the fifth football player in World Cup history to score twice from direct free kicks. Beckham was the English national team captain from 2000 to 2006.

He is famous at scoring, from free kicks by “bending” the ball or making it swerve as it flies through the air. When he played with Real Madrid, many speculated that aside from his football ability, the team enlisted him because of the merchandising opportunities he would bring in. Now with LA Galaxy, it was reported that the five-year deal he signed with the Major League Soccer team was worth $250-M.

Beckham is well-known for his metrosexual style in fashion. Beckham was named world’s best dressed male by UK Glamour Magazine last January. With wife Victoria Adams, Posh Spice of Spice Girls, the couple entered the world of aftershave with his own line of scents, Instinct.

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, winner of two Grand Slam singles titles, earns considerably more from her endorsements. Sharapova is known to wear quite revealing Nike outfits on court like the Breakfast at Tiffany’s-inspired dress she wore at the 2006 US Open. In June 2005, Forbes magazine listed Sharapova as the highest-paid female athlete in the world with annual earnings of $18-M. Her good looks landed her in several pages of magazines. She posed in a six-page bikini photoshoot spread in the 2006 issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue along with other supermodels. Sharapova was listed in April 2005 by People Magazine as among the 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world while Maxim Magazine named her in 2006 the hottest female athlete in the world for the fourth consecutive year. In a poll conducted by Britain’s FHM Magazine which considered both wealth and looks, Sharapova was voted the seventh most eligible bachelorette.

Serena Williams is a tennis player who won eight Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in women’s doubles. She is the younger sister of Venus Williams, former world No. 1 professional female tennis player. In 2004, Serena had an endorsement contract worth approximately $40-M with Nike, Inc., making the tennis star one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. Serena is famous for her unusual and colorful outfits on court. She created an on-court stir when she wore a leather-looking catsuit at the US Open in 2002 and a denim skirt and boots at the US Open in 2004. Outside the tennis courts, Williams grabbed media attention in November 2004 at the London premiere of Pierce Brosnan’s film, After the Sunset, when she appeared in a red gown with strips of sheer fabric that had a near-topless effect. Williams has her own line of designer clothing called Aneres (her first name spelled backward) and her sister Venus became one of the models in her designs.

Anna Kournikova is a former Russian tennis player who debuted in professional tennis when she was 14 years old in the Fed Cup for Russia. Kournikova was a member of the Russian delegation to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. She won two Grand Slam doubles titles in 1999 and 2002 both at the Australian Open in the Women’s Doubles event with partner Martina Hingis. During her debut at the 1996 US Open at age 15, her beauty was greatly noticed and soon her pictures appeared in magazines worldwide. She appeared in various men’s magazines like Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues (2004 to 2005) where she posed in bikinis and swimsuits, FHM and Maxim. Kournikova was named one of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003 and voted the hottest female athlete on Kournikova also placed first in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World in its US and UK editions in 2002. It was reported in 2002 that Kournikova earned between $10-M to $15-M in endorsements.

Kournikova graced the runways like the charity fashion show in Dublin where she wore a floaty Escada couture gown in 2002 and the annual General Motors’ fashion show in Los Angeles last 2006 where she appeared in an elegant black corset dress.

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