Friday Fashion Face-off: The Micro-Dress

Is there a proper length for a tennis skirt?

Even asking the question makes me squirm a bit inside. I like doling out a little good-humored snark, but playing hemline cop doesn’t appeal to me. Still, I can’t help looking askance when I see the lengths, or should I say the shorts, to which some young women will go.

I’m clearly dating myself since nowadays I see girls as young as middle school wearing shorts with the lower part of their butt cheeks hanging out. They wear these micro-shorts in front of their parents, who have either given up the fight or truly don’t care. Personally, I’d say save the micro-shorts for going to the beach or (if you’re older) clubbing. There’s a time and place for flaunting your assets, and Rite-Aid on a Wednesday afternoon isn’t it. (My own daughter’s in college, and I have no idea what she wears to Rite-Aid. This is probably a good thing.)

But I digress. Tennis players are, so far, keeping their cheeks safely tucked inside their knickers. It’s just that some of these knickers are getting an awful lot of exposure.

Take CoCo Vandeweghe, for instance:

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Honestly, I can’t watch her play without wanting to rush onto court in full mom-mode and tug that skirt back down.

And of course, there’s the Italian hottie, Camila Giorgi:

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Can we really call this a dress, or is it just a longish shirt?

Giorgi and Vandeweghe are as covered as they’d be wearing bicycle shorts, so we’re not into obscene territory here. In truth, my question about tennis hemlines centers less on modesty than on aesthetics.

To me, these dresses look like they shrank in the wash. Giorgi’s hemline in particular hits her body in an awkward place. The dress exposes her figure but doesn’t flatter it. (I know most hetero men will fail to grasp this distinction. For them, the smaller or tighter the outfit, the better. I get it, and I promise my feelings won’t be hurt if those guys want to stop reading now and go google pictures of Giorgi.)

The crotch-high hemline actually isn’t a new phenomenon for women’s tennis. Back in the ’70s, players like Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, and Rosie Casals sported what I’d call micro-dresses. I haven’t researched this theory, but I’m guessing that era’s radical hemline represented feminism’s rejection of the traditional long-skirt trappings of “ladies.”

Here’s a classic Martina photo from Wimbledon in 1978.

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(I know–WTF with the lapels?! I hope they were sewn down and not flopping around in her face while she played!)

So what IS an aesthetically pleasing, well-proportioned hemline for tennis? Is there a simple guideline? Some public schools institute dress codes that require shorts and skirts to extend to a person’s fingertips, but these often controversial codes are about what’s appropriate, not about what’s attractive.

Or are fashion guidelines themselves passé, as arbitrary as not wearing white after Labor Day? It’s possible that I just haven’t kept up with the changing times and have fossilized into a crotchety old lady. (Wait, what are those kids doing on my lawn…)

Well, this topic ended up a little weightier than I was expecting. Let’s bring back the fun with FOUR poll questions…




3 thoughts on “Friday Fashion Face-off: The Micro-Dress

Add yours

  1. Number 1, I still wear white after Labor Day on nice sunny days…it’s a form of celebration as in “Hooray, the sun is still shining!”

    2nd point: As background, i play almost exclusively women’s tennis and I dress for comfort and attractiveness: I like wearing what I think I look good in and —yes I’ll admit it — what I think my girlfriends will think I look good in. I don’t think that feminism drives our choices at all. Am I missing something here? Is my freedom to wear what I want connected to feminism?

    1. I just wondered if exposing your body the way Giorgi does (she’s really the one who does it most) is a feminist, “We are powerful women athletes! Take us seriously! Don’t confine us in long skirts” statement, the way that the micro-dresses of the 1970s were. Or are we past the age of making feminist statements with our clothes? Or is it a different kind of feminist statement–one that’s not about equality but about reclaiming one’s own body or wearing whatever we damn please? I don’t think there’s a right answer–just a variety of opinion. Some could look at Giorgi’s outfits and argue that she’s setting women back by trying to garner attention with her looks–although she certainly has the game to back it up! Others could say that it’s sexist to criticize women for embracing their own beauty and that Giorgi’s dress epitomizes just how far we’ve come in a post-feminist age.

      I just thought it was interesting to compare clothing politics from the 70s to that of today. (But apparently I’m the only one who finds it interesting! 😂)

  2. I’m not wearing white after Labor Day this year…but mostly because it’s been cold and my white pants are cropped! I would, if the weather was warmer.

    As for skirt length, I think women should wear what’s comfortable and functional and makes them feel good. “Attractive” might be one way to feel good, and if a short skirt works, then go for it. Maybe a catsuit is another way to feel good, although it wouldn’t do that for me. It could be that these women just feel more comfortable in shorter skirts. A longer skirt can kinda get in the way.

    I wear a variety of lengths on the court. I have to say that just bike shorts works best for me, but that doesn’t feel right. But I did get a really cute skort from Athleta that has a nice stretchy pocket fit into the seams on each side that can hold a tennis ball on the court and a cell phone off the court: The Dobby Be Free Skort. It’s pretty short, but I love it.

Let me know what you think!

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