As cheerleading changed from being a male-dominated sport to a female sport, the clothing changed to reflect the athleticism needed to be a successful cheerleader. Nowadays, the sport is predominantly female and the uniform mainly includes short skirts and tank tops.
Practice Wear and Cheer Camp
Lawrence Herkimer created the initial cheer camp in 1948, and it brought a big change to cheerleading outfits. Because cheer camp is a place where a cheerleader goes to perfect her moves, the clothing worn needed to be comfortable to allow them to practice safely. In the early 1900s, cheerleaders wore khaki shorts but they were changed to Soffe-knit ones and paired with tank tops to allow easier movement.
As the camps expanded and new traditions came up, it became increasingly important for people to demonstrate their spirit and support by donning matching apparel. This is now common at camps and each team matches from the hair bow to the socks. In the beginning, tanks and shorts were only available in a few colors but as the number of squads went up, so did the designs and colors.
To make their uniforms unique, squads started making custom cheer uniforms with embroidered school names and logos. Customizing cheerleading uniforms makes it easier for squads to represent the school spirit. As this sport became more common, many clothing companies started meeting to expand the needs of cheerleading.
In 1982, ESPN showed their first cheerleading competition on TV and this put cheerleaders in the spotlight for the first time. From this point on, the fame of cheerleading took off and athletes started taking more pride in their sport. As a result, cheerleading costumes did not only represent the school’s pride but they also showed pride in being a cheerleader.
Instead of letting their differences tear them apart, the cheerleaders started having common triumphs and challenges to unite and bring them together. Cheer-specific phrases and bright-colored clothes became a way for cheerleaders to show off their unique personalities. You could now tell one cheerleading squad from the other by their uniforms.
In the 1990s, cheerleading uniforms were just as we know them today except for slump socks and canvas sneakers. Tops were waist-length sleeveless vests that could be worn with a turtleneck underneath. In some cases, the athletes wore turtlenecks under sweatshirts and paired them with pleated skirts that had a striping design at the bottom.
The preferred skirt length was mid-thigh and the rule was that the skirt had to touch the ends of the fingers when hands were straightened at the sides. Skirts that were shorter than this were considered too short and not acceptable.
The Rise of Cheerleaders
Parents are the number one cheerleaders of cheerleaders. Not only do they support their kids by taking them to practice and competitions, but they also want people to root for them. Friends, families, and communities would also like to show their love and support, which means that now there are some dedicated fashion lines that deal with cheerleading costumes only.
The fashion lines usually include polo shirts, sweaters, hats, and bags as well as anything that the cheerleaders can think of adding to their uniforms. Moreover, they wear clothing collections that allow them to support their favorite all-star teams and cheerleaders. When they do this, they might feel more complete and stylish.
Dressing for All-Season Sport
As the sport became more physical, the length of cheerleading skirts got shorter and the cold months did not encourage an increase in length. Instead of making the skirts longer, warm-ups became a great way for cheerleaders to stay warm in the winter. Although they were offered as in-stock pieces only at first, you can now buy warm-ups as part of your cheerleading costume.
You can purchase them to match your uniform or customize them to fit your unique style. As the popularity of cheerleading increases, the costumes continue to focus on keeping athletes comfy while allowing more flexibility for complicated stunts and tricks. The costumes also focus on highlighting squad, cheerleading, and school pride.
Cheerleading Uniforms Today
Cheerleading is now a sport in its own right, so the outfits need to reflect the ability to jump and perform hard moves. Because the uniforms are made from a spandex-polyester blend, they are more flexible than ever. Skirts are about 12-14 inches in length to make it easier to move about and to prevent tumbling.
You can wear your skirt over a pair of spandex spankies to avoid flashing the audience when you are three feet in the air. The top is tank-like and form fitting and you can choose from a number of colors and designs. Cheerleading uniforms for professional teams and colleges are not regulated but in high school, the guidelines state that the top must cover the midriff when the arms are at rest.
All-star teams have different guidelines: teams can wear tops that cover just the bra or the whole chest and tummy area. Nowadays, some tops have a bit of material cut off to expose parts of the chest or midsection. If you do not have to follow any guidelines, you should choose a style that reflects your fashion sense. Just make sure that you feel comfortable jumping up and down whilst wearing the uniform.
If you are looking to buy cheerleading costumes, it is important that you understand their history so that you can buy the best ones.