Tennis Clothes: It’s Okay To Wear Something That Isn’t White (Unless You’re at Wimbledon)
It has long been alleged that Henry Ford said that you could have a Model T in any color as long as it was black. In a similar manner, it used to be that you could wear whatever color of tennis clothes you wanted as long as they were white.
Today, that’s no longer the case, unless you play exclusively at Wimbledon (or any other club that limits its members to white apparel). You now have many choices in color and styling as well as technological advances that allow you to play in comfort when it comes to what you wear on the courts.
There are many ways that modern tennis wear has changed over the years. From literally head to toe, you can find apparel that was designed with the idea of maximizing your comfort while competing.
Today’s Tennis Shirts Don’t Feel Like Wet Towels After You’re Done Playing..
In the past, not only were all tennis shirts white, they were also made of cotton, which is a great material for most clothing except athletic apparel. While cotton is known for its comfort and ability to ‘breathe’, it is no longer comfortable once someone wearing it perspires a lot. Cotton is great at absorbing sweat, but is not a good material for tennis clothes, providing no way to get rid of the sweat once it is absorbed.
Modern tennis shirts are made of odor resistant synthetic materials that wick away perspiration as the fabric absorbs it. This allows the shirt to stay more dry more quickly and feel less like a wet towel. Some of these shirts also provide protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and come in a variety of colors and with or without collars.
..And Neither do the Shorts
Many of the same characteristics that make modern tennis shirts desirable are also found in shorts. In addition to being made of synthetic materials that wick away perspiration, shorts are longer and looser fitting than those from previous generations. You can also find them in a variety of colors for when you aren’t playing at Wimbledon.
You Cannot Afford to Take Socks for Granted
One of the undesirable properties of cotton mentioned earlier was its inability to wick away perspiration. Another undesirable property of cotton is that it can cause chafing. Wearing this material for any kind of strenuous exercise, especially one with the abrasive stop-and-go movement common in tennis, can lead to foot blisters. Just as you should not wear a cotton shirt to play tennis in, you should also not wear cotton socks either. Socks should be made of synthetics that avoid chafing and wick away sweat. Many provide additional material in the forefoot and heel to add cushioning.
Keeping the Sun Out of Your Eyes
Your wardrobe is not complete without something to protect your eyes from the sun. Caps and visors are one great way to do this. They should be made of a material that, like the shirts and socks mentioned earlier, wick away perspiration. They should also have microbial resistant sweatbands and be made of UV resistant material.
Another way to do this is with sunglasses. Lenses should protect against all UV light (UVA and UVB) and be lightweight and comfortable. Some models have lenses that enhance the optic yellow properties of the ball, making it easier to spot while you play.
Tennis clothes have changed for the better since the days of all white, all cotton apparel. While Wimbledon is certainly a highly regarded institution in the sport of tennis and respected for its tradition, it’s nice that almost anywhere else, you are not limited to their clothing restrictions. It’s also nice to be able to wear clothing and accessories that are designed to maximize comfort and limit the toll that playing tennis can put on your body.
Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer from San Diego, Calif. He enjoys covering topics including sports, electronics and athletic equipment. He is an expert on tennis products and technology and appreciates being able to share his knowledge with the tennis community.