As the popularity of women’s tennis continues to grow, so too does the fashion. Women’s tennis fashion has come leaps and bounds from the sport’s inception in late 19th century Victorian England. Each decade since, the hemlines continued to shorten and the styles evolve, which you can read more about here, in our previous blog post.
However, one of the never discussed aspects of women’s tennis apparel is the topic of what a woman wears under her tennis skirt or dress!
After women graduated to shorter tennis skirts circa the 1940s-1950s, women could no longer wear long stockings as their undergarments. The shorter hemline offered increased mobility, and as such, skirts often inadvertently revealed what was underneath.
Let’s take a look at a few of the more contemporary styles of tennis shorts worn under tennis skirts and talk about their pros and cons:
The Tighty Whities?
Check out this pair of 1970’s Fila ball shorts. We see the Fila logo discreetly embroidered on the rear hemline, a sign of the branding and marketing that would soon emerge on the tennis scene. They are a double layer soft polyester/cotton blend with nice, stretchy elastic waist and leg openings but are otherwise incredibly basic in construction.
This pair of tennis undershorts, however, is hardly functional for a female tennis player (both then and now). They offer no compression; the material is loose fitting, and there is no place to properly or comfortably hold a ball. Thank goodness we’ve have moved on from here!
Side note: However, check out these cute shorts from a decade earlier in the ‘60s! They are equally impractical, but they earn major style points!
2. The Beyond Basic
This pair of navy tennis shorts is part of an Adidas tennis dress set (though I think I had to buy them separately, which is absurd). They are a soft polyester/spandex blend, but sadly it’s the type of material you can already envision the sweat stains coming through. The wider waistband is great in theory, but see comment below for the truth.
Though the waistband is a nice width, it is all one wide piece of elastic that is sewn into the shorts. That means: pinching of the waist! Even thin people can have “muffin top” when something hits at the wrong point of their midsection. That’s the case with these shorts. They do not offer a high enough rise, and the cheap elastic band construction is just plain unattractive.
Also, when you are paying top dollar for a big name brand, there should be more features. There are zero pockets anywhere and minimal seams. Essentially: cheap, basic construction.
3. El Cheapo
These shorts are part of an Asics tennis dress set that I bought several years ago on sale, couldn’t return it, and never bothered to even remove the tags. The dress itself is a cute design and shape, but that is not enough to balance out all the cons noted below. The shorts have some nice stitching details, making them look promising, but again, see below.
Sadly, I have a lot of criticism for this two-piece dress set. The fabric is wafer-thin, almost see-through, feels very cheap and does not have enough spandex.
The shorts have a too-tight waistband that is also simply a thick piece of elastic, thus yielding an uncomfortable fit around the waist. The chevron-pattern stitching doesn’t serve any function or purpose, and there are no pockets featured anywhere. Wearing these shorts makes me feel as good about my body as when I try on bathing suits in a store changing room with poor overhead lighting.
4. Enter Edara Stage Right
I approached the shorts component of my tennis dresses as if they were part of a built-in skirt. Skirts are more forgiving around the waistline, because many of them nowadays offer a higher rise and a thicker waistband which is more universally flattering. See more about how a tennis skirt should fit here. You can also wear a shirt untucked over a skirt to cover any pinching areas that you are self-conscious about—something the flowy bodice of each Edara one-piece purposefully accomplishes.
Pockets are a really nice feature. I rarely use them, personally, but when I do—for keys, chapstick or an extra tennis ball—I’m really glad they are there. Edara shorts feature a pocket on each side.
Hem grip: you either love it or hate it, but the vast majority of women I know LOVE it. It is a thin, silicone elastic strip that is sewn into the hem of the shorts. It stretches with the fabric, so while it may pinch around your thighs slightly, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or look unattractive, and you should forget it is even there after a few strokes on the court. It is a total game-changer for me, as it ensures my shorts stay in place and don’t ride up like those unsightly tighty-whities we talked about previously! They also keep balls securely under your shorts while you play. It is surprising that more brands don’t feature hem grip.
Many fabrics were tested before the current one was selected. It offers just enough spandex compression to ensure these tennis shorts are form-fitting and supportive.
Nothing is perfect, and Edara shorts can continue to improve and evolve! Some changes that you will see in the future:
The pocket on the lefthand thigh is going to be inverted in the next iteration so that you can more easily slip a ball in or out using your non-dominant hand (sorry, left-handed servers; we can address the other side, too, if needed down the road).
The hem grip on some select Ruffle dresses was sewn too tightly on a small number of pieces in the past production run. This makes for too-tight shorts that don’t accomplish what they are meant to do. Now that we are aware of it, the affected pieces have been removed and the tension on the sewing machine will be adjusted accordingly.
No complaints on the current fabric of the shorts, but there are so many wonderful, comfortable, insanely soft and stretchy options available, that we will have fun trying new materials out in various upcoming iterations.
I did not intend for this to be a rant on other brands. However, these examples go to show that there is MAJOR room for improvement in the field of women’s tennis apparel. Big name brands are cutting corners, skimping on quality, and frankly don’t have the right people behind the scenes to include design features that tennis players WANT and NEED in their apparel.
While nothing will ever be universally perfect, there are basic design tenants that athletes of all talent levels deserve. Nothing is cheap these days, so when you spend your hard-earned money, the purchase should reflect it.
Edara Apparel is quality through and through. Edara designs and styles are completely intentional. Our built-in shorts feature is a significant component of each design, and a large reason why I personally believe that tennis onesies deserve a category of their own in the tennis apparel market.