In the early 1900s, as leisure time began to increase and golf caught a toehold in American culture, no self-respecting duffer from the Victorian Age would have stepped onto a course without full and proper attire. Still the exclusive domain of upper-class men, golf was played in knickers, silk stockings, cutaway coats and neck scarves.
In the 1920s, the decidedly more casual American style manifested on the greens too, in the form of knickers, argyle socks and sweaters, and “newsboy” caps. Even so, most golfers still wore dress shirts and ties beneath those sweaters.
When women finally took to the game, dresses were the unspoken rule, with the 1930s being the most stylish era, including rakish hats and slim skirts.
Once men’s knickers went out, and slacks came in, golf clothing followed, introducing short-sleeved shirts in the 1940s. By the 1950s, golf fashion reflected the suburbanites who played it: conservative, safe and topped off with cardigan sweaters. While a few daring women played in shorts and slacks in the 1950s, most still wore below-the knee skirts, sensible blouses and sweaters; and it wasn’t at all unusual for women to play in hosiery.
That golfers have been left to their own devices has resulted at times in eye-popping fashion. The 1970s saw the first real flashes of color with the advent of polyester plaid slacks, an unfortunate staple that hung on through the 1980s.
Pro golfer Payne Stewart caused a stir in the 1990s by reintroducing the 1920s style of dress.
By the 2000s, everyone wanted to be Tiger Woods, who eschewed the hokey pastels and white-belted look made famous by the pudgy Jack Nicklaus and imitated by others. Woods, who brought athleticism to the game, opted for a sleek silhouette of dark slacks and “polo-style” shirts in bold but masculine colors.
But just like platform shoes and bellbottoms, golf has gone back to the future. The more golf star John Daly’s playing abilities deteriorated, the more wacky his outfits became. Today, Daly has become a one-man fashion industry. His “Loudmouth” golf clothing line features wild trousers with patterns and color combinations so crazy they’re cool.
The latest golfer to make a splash in fashion is Rickie Fowler with his head-to-toe matching Puma ensembles.