In the 1870s long, full skirts, high-necked blouses, leg-of-mutton sleeves, a hat, and a bustle were the height of sporting fashion. Add the typical underwear for the well-dressed Victorian woman: camisole, chemise, corset, half a dozen petticoats, stockings and garters, and walking the course – let alone finding the ball and hitting it – must’ve been a minor miracle.
Ingenuity played its part.
To combat typically blustery conditions, an elastic band was devised to be worn around the waist. Easily dropped down to the knees, it served to keep a billowing dress momentarily quiet during the swing.
Flexibility in fashion of a kind unknown in the past has become the norm. Golfers of both sexes, but especially women, are wearing clothes that work as well on the course as off. The classics remain: golf skirts or slacks, knee-length shorts, sport shirts.
A more assimilated look, away from the more rigid ensembles of the past, offers additional choices: conservative, eclectic, trendy, traditional. One evidence of the change is the accepted variety in skirt lengths.
Hemlines can be anywhere from thigh high to mid calf. Whether tartan or neon happens to be in vogue, the key word is, and always will be: comfort. On public courses, sweats, old sneakers, tank tops, or running shorts will suffice. On private daily fee courses or at country clubs, conventional wisdom calls for traditional golf shirts with collars, knee-length shorts, skirts or slacks. (Beware: jeans may also be prohibited or at least frowned upon.)
High heels, or waffle-edged running shoes could easily ruin a green and are naturally not allowed. If you have any doubts about your attire, from shoes up, call the pro shop. Golf shoes aren’t always required, however. At the very least, tennis shoes or soft rubber-soled shoes are acceptable. Having said that, private clubs may specifically require cleated shoes to play the course.
Once again, it’s not cut-and-dried. It’s your responsibility to find out beforehand. Women should be especially vigilant about dress codes. Pro shops are accustomed to dealing with people familiar with the requirements and often make general assumptions about “appropriate golf wear.”
Be specific with your questions. You may have to prod a little to find out that appropriate golf wear in fact means nothing less than shorts no higher than four inches above the knee, collared golf shirts, and cleated golf shoes.
Many golfers today wear the same corporate names or logos on their clothing as the professionals. There is nothing wrong with wearing logos, and frankly, it is almost impossible to avoid them on any sports apparel.
You will have to be the judge. To make a good impression, a modest approach is best. For most of us, it will make no difference to how we play except we might play a little better when we feel good about how we look!