Having its roots in attire specific to English hunting sports during the mid-nineteenth century, it soon became fashionable to wear garments associated with leisure-time sports such as golf, tennis, ice skating, polo, horseback riding, bicycling, and lawn sports. The wearing of riding coats, blazers, trousers, divided skirts, and separate shirts by both men and women soon traveled to America as more Europeans began to migrate. The Rational Dress Society, founded in 1881, pioneered the wearing of trousers for sport, emulating Amelia Jenks Bloomer, who in the early nineteenth century, promoted the first daytime-wear trouser-suit for women. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and advances in manufacturing came a preference for a more casual way to dress, especially for the working and middle classes. Clothing known as separates evolved and grew to make up the largest category of merchandise in retail today. Mix-and-match separates consisting of shirts, skirts, jackets, pants, and sweaters were color coordinated and were marketed as a way to increase a wardrobe. During the 1920s and 1930s designers Paul Poiret (1879-1944), Coco Chanel (1883-1971), and Jean Patou (1880-1936) vigorously promoted the sportswear look. Patou's specialty boutique, Le coin des sports, was the first division of a couture house to specialize in all types of sports apparel. Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) founded her company and shop, stupidir le Sport, in 1927, specializing in sportswear and trompe l'oeil sweaters. It was a fact that women buying these clothes were not always sports-inclined, yet preferred this more casual style of dress over the stricter European alternative. Americans embraced the sportswear concept more readily than their European counterparts, which is why they are most often given credit as its originators. American designers Bonnie Cashin, Claire Mc-Cardell, Clare Potter, Vera Maxwell, and Tina Leser were sportswear pioneers after World War II and their work filled the pages of newspapers, magazines, and store racks. The look was endorsed and promoted with the help of people like Virginia Pope (New York Times fashion editor, 1925-1955), Carmel Snow (Harper's Bazaar editor, 1934-1958), and Dorothy Shaver (Lord & Taylor president, 1946-1959).
   The sportswear category became internationally acceptable with the unique design and marketing talents of designers including McCardell's "five easy pieces" concept (1940s), Vera Maxwell's "six-piece ensemble in a travel bag" concept (1975), and Donna Karan's twist on the mix-and-match concept, "seven easy pieces" (1990), consisting of a bodysuit, tights, dress, skirt, jacket, pants, and accessories. Today, designers on both continents design sportswear and the original concept of "sports apparel" is now broken down into activewear and performance apparel.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

Look at other dictionaries:

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