As the old adage goes, “all
work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.” So, men and women devised
activities to fill their leisure time in between work and sleep. Such
pastimes can be as high born as the aristocratic English tradition of
hunting and croquet or as lowly as the American street sports of
baseball and basketball.
The Victorian age was responsible for the modern idea of leisure time due to the Industrial Revolution’s invention of new lighting and machinery. People now could work more efficiently and play long into the night. Before then, most people worked from dawn till dusk with little or no time for play. During the last century, leisure wear itself evolved in reflection of the culture wearing it. Victorian sporting clothes were as structured and corseted as daily wear. Finely tailored hunting and fishing costumes in the late 1800’s became the functional safety vests and glasses for today’s sportsmen. Victorian women splashed about in the water wearing heavy wool bathing costumes consisting of dress, cap, bloomers, and stockings. This rarely led to what we would call actual swimming as it was more important that women were covered from head to toe, as society dictated. In the 1920’s, swimsuits and tennis dresses became as short and shapeless as the scandalous-clad flappers. People began to create sports attire based on function, not fashion and the constraints of proper etiquette.
Advances in science have led to fabrics that perform to the ultimate advantage of the athletes. Tour de France cyclists wear the latest in aerodynamic designs in spandex. American football players and extreme sports enthusiasts wear the latest in plastic protection and padding during play. NASCAR drivers race in fire retardant jumpsuits for protection in crash-related fires. Also, their jumpsuits sport the logos of the sponsors.