Because You Can

The sporting life.

Image via Teen Vogue

As a kid, I was what you might politely call the “indoorsy type.” To put it less politely, I was a bookish, tragically unathletic girl who literally tripped over her own feet and had a litany of vague medical excuses for not participating in gym class—of which my phony second-grade ulcer was the crowning achievement. When I decided to take up jogging a few years ago, it was the first athletic activity I’d ever voluntarily taken part in. I remember going out for a run at 10 PM, so convinced was I that my inelegant canter was unfit for the light of day. That’s why it’s sort of funny that in the past few years I’ve started dressing in what I like to call “vintage sportif chic.” It’s a flirty, loose take on sporty basics that are really fun to wear. Best of all, you don’t need to know a baseball from a batting glove if that’s not your thing. Here’s how to do it from top to toe:

The Athletic Jersey
OK, this is a tricky look, because a certain kind of jersey can read a bit Pauly D. You might want to avoid wearing those gigantic jerseys with the huge gaping armholes that come down to your knees. If you stick to something vintage and fitted, then you’ll look just as amazing as Swedish high jumper Gunhild Larking, seen here awaiting her turn at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956:

Or two lesser-known athletes, some scrawny dude named Barack and Blondie’s Debbie Harry:

Images via HBO and Modafocka

The Baseball Tee

Images via Ornithes and Born in Flames

Another good choice is the worn-in baseball tee: Annabel of Ornithes thrifted her ’88 Dodgers T-shirt, my boyfriend kindly indulges me when I beg to borrow his dad’s Mets tee that’s as old as he is, and Etsy has a million similar options.

Image via Born in Flames

If the thrift gods aren’t giving up the goods, a classic three-quarter-sleeve baseball tee is also super cute, and you can find one for about 10 dollars in any sporting goods store.

The Flippy Tennis Skirt

That’s me in both of the photos above. When I recently showed up at a barbeque wearing that red skirt, a friend rolled his eyes and said, “Do you ever NOT wear pleated schoolgirl skirts?” which was really stupid of him because it is clearly a TENNIS skirt, so you can quit skirt-shaming me thankyouverymuch!

All right, so I have been working this look pretty hard, but who can blame me when it’s so much fun?! It’s nice and cool for the summertime, and I feel like it really makes me stand out from the hordes of girls wearing cut-off jean shorts (I own six pairs of those, but you know what I mean). To pull off this look, you want to find a short-ish skirt with nice knife-sharp pleats so it’ll swish when you walk or dive for that serve or whatever—this one from Lacoste is pretty much perfect.

Clockwise from top left: Memoirs Fashion; Teen Vogue; Actress Carole Lombard and tennis player Alice Marble via Historiful; Venus Williams via

Keep in mind that Wimbledon participants are required to compete in all-white outfits, so light colors will make you feel especially classic and tennis phenom-y.

What about kicks?
In keeping with the tennis theme, let’s talk classic court shoes. Converse Jack Purcells and Adidas Stan Smiths are great, but my all-time favorites are Nike All Courts. Nike’s 1978 endorsement deal with tennis player John McEnroe made his white-and-turquoise pair iconic, and the shoes soon became popular for the street as well as the court.

Images via Tomboy Style; Amazon.

How hot does Daryl Hannah-circa-1980 look in her All Courts? The shoes were briefly out of production, but luckily Nike has brought them back in every color of the rainbow.

Image via JDS/2

Sports stars can be pretty inspiring off-duty, too. Right now I’m sort of obsessed with this photo of Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Dave Parker from 1979. He was such a powerful hitter that as a minor leaguer in Charleston, West Virginia, one of his home run balls landed in the coal car of a train which eventually ended up in Columbus, Ohio. Dave made this T-shirt himself as a tribute to his legendary hitting power, and the only thing more rad than the image of him hunched over an ironing board with a bunch of little felt letters is the fact that he chose to wear it with a big floppy straw hat (style for dayyyyys!!). Homage just started remaking this tribute T-shirt, and I can’t wait to get one and wear it all summer long with a wide-brimmed hat, a cocked hip, and a badass “just me and the boys” attitude—batting lessons optional.

Clockwise from top left: Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses, $199, ASOS; straw hat, $35, J. Crew; book, $12, Better World Books; image via 1952 Topps Baseball Cards; image via JDS/2; sneakers, $137, Rakuten; vintage jean shorts via Born in Flames; T-shirt, $28, Homage.


  • mangonut July 10th, 2012 11:17 PM

    love this article, especially the tennis themed clothing! Half the reason I play tennis is to have an excuse to buy them (:

  • SweetThangVintage July 10th, 2012 11:18 PM

    This is great! Especially the me and the boys boppin part!

    I have a three quarter sleeve red and white shirt that I LOVE. My friends sing high school musical songs when I wear it.

    • mangonut July 10th, 2012 11:26 PM

      I NEED to get a “boppin” shirt

  • hustlenflow July 11th, 2012 12:43 AM

    That boppin shirt is RAD! School picture day, anyone?

  • kittenmix July 11th, 2012 1:52 AM

    Guys, guys you missed the sweaty butt baring fluoro gym shorts that are all the rage rn (all the rage on my butt, that is). But siq article anyhow I love that lacoste skirt real hard.

  • Adrienne July 11th, 2012 1:53 AM

    I love this article!!! I play golf year round (I am forever plagued with the dreaded “sock tan”), especially during the summer, so almost every day I wear polos and shorts. Now I’m really inspired to wear cuter clothes when I golf, like golf skirts and cool earrings!

  • mayaautumn July 11th, 2012 2:17 AM

    I’m not the sporty/competitive type at all but often i do go for a sporty look in the outfits i wear. i just bought some new Nike trainers and am looking forward to wearing them…:D
    all the pics bring so much inspiration WOOO!

  • SpencerBowie July 11th, 2012 2:43 AM

    I always will strive to wear the stereotypical outfit with a theme that goes with the situation. The inspiration for that goal came from cartoon characters. You know how if they go on safari they wear the hat and khaki vest and what not! I’m not sporty,but the only ones I’ll actually love are swimming and tennis! I love tennis and, when I play, I try to do sportswear my way! With a vintage polo and vans or keds, white shorts of corse!

    Recently tho, Madonna has also inspired me to try to mix a lil bit of sporty in with my glam punk style! I want to incorporate jerseys and neon-ish stuff somehow!

    Loved the article!!!! And the tennis skirt!!!

    • all-art-is-quite-useless July 13th, 2012 12:10 PM

      Theme-dressing, yes! My friends don’t understand why it is completely necessary to dress like the children in the Faraway Tree books (or how I imagine them!), or from any Enid Blyton books.

  • Lucille July 11th, 2012 4:21 AM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this article! <3

  • Lucille July 11th, 2012 4:22 AM

    and love that tennis skirt and kicks and all of it!

  • Glitter July 11th, 2012 5:01 AM

    I have been arguing with myself about wearing the sporty, easy and cute sportswear I buy and feel good wearing, because I never work out or have an interest in sport!!

    Now I feel so much better, Thank you, this article was great! Now I cant wait to buy one of those adorable tennis dresses in white (Seriously, I need one of those)! :-)

  • Abi July 11th, 2012 9:14 AM

    I’m so in love with that red skirt!

  • nickz July 11th, 2012 9:29 AM

    I really need one of those tennis skirts,they are so nice :) This summer I challenged myself to experiment with my style and to wear skirts and dresses more and that sporty trend is a nice one to try .

  • Amy Rose July 11th, 2012 10:20 AM

    Leann, these articles slay. And how much am I gonna wear that BOPPIN t-shirt? (Every day, is how much.)

  • dogsrule July 11th, 2012 12:11 PM

    new balance 574s are classic track sneakers but work great casually and with a lot of different outfits.
    i like to buy sporty apparel from they have really good stuff, as a mets fan my fave is probably the darryl strawberry tee

  • hollysh July 11th, 2012 1:32 PM

    I encountered the glorious article of clothing that is the netball skirt when I moved to Australia. They have amazing pleats, are in every thrift store and sporting goods store, are super cheap, come in a million colours, and have a non-dorky adjustable waist. they are amaaaaazing! see:

    of course, they look more amazing on. here’s a street style shot from sydney:

    • madeleine9 July 16th, 2012 10:30 PM

      I was just about to suggest the same thing – my best friend is a pro netballer and I steal all her old skirts…she just laughs at me when she sees me out wearing her little pleated skirts and a cropped t-shirt ;)

  • rhymeswithorange July 11th, 2012 3:38 PM

    Such a cool look! ~inspiration~

  • ThePuNkR0ckeR July 11th, 2012 3:48 PM

    it’s so weird. Now that you posted this, American Apparel came out with a collection called :”tennis skirts”

  • Taffy July 11th, 2012 9:06 PM

    OMG Debbie Harry, I feel like Rookie needs more of her. I love this, though. I need a tennis skirt now. Need.

  • sherry July 12th, 2012 7:01 AM

    the tennis skirts are really cute<3
    I must get one this summer:DD

  • MaggietheCat July 12th, 2012 2:10 PM

    TENNIS SKIRTS. My life is now complete.

  • Pemmsan July 12th, 2012 4:15 PM

    Okay. This is getting ridiculous! It’s insane how much this site is in sync with my current style-favorites. I recently started working out again and have been buying bunches of baseball shirts and colorful sportswear, as well as looking for iconic sporty sneakers.
    You guys rock! Don’t know what I would do without this site <3

  • Mariel July 14th, 2012 11:33 AM

    This is super great, Leeann! You inspired me to thrift a white tennis skirt of my very own :)

  • AdrienneRumer July 15th, 2012 3:29 PM

    I need that boppin top in my life.

  • runningfilm July 17th, 2012 5:18 PM

    I’m a high school cross country/distance track runner, so my wardrobe is littered with more running tights and meet shirts than I’d like to admit. I really love finding ways to incorporate my comfy running stuff into nicer looking outfits- thanks for the inspiration!

  • FlaG July 30th, 2012 8:54 AM

    I came back from my local second hand shop today with a Fred Perry tennis skirt. My mod/skinhead dreams are fulfilled.

  • Freyagshi August 14th, 2012 11:59 AM

    Sooo, I have like the small foots syndrome and wear like a 3 or a 4 in shoes and a 5 in heels if m lucky. only prolem is its nearly impossible to find awesome shoes or my age-a girl who shops in the ids shoes section at target.
    yay….Any advice? :)

    sincerely, the very unlucky feet girl

  • Freyagshi August 14th, 2012 12:09 PM

    ma baaaad punctuation and grammar!

  • mymlen October 14th, 2012 12:47 PM

    I really love the style, but I feel like it suits skinny girls better. Like, girls with a more masculine body shape. Or am I wrong?