Olympic Attire Through the Ages

By Cristina Sayre
7/12/2012 10:30:45 AM

The modern Olympic games, under the auspices of Baron Pierre de Coubertin's International Olympic Charter (which still governs the games today) began in 1896. The first Olympics featured 241 athletes from 14 nations who competed in 43 different events. The estimated participation for the upcoming 2012 summer Olympics is 10,500 athletes from 204 countries set to compete in 302 events! As you'd expect, a lot has changed about the games since 1986: Women are now allowed to participate (much to de Coubertin's chagrin), professional athletes can compete, and, hoo-boy have Olympic fashions changed! Click on to see a sampling of competitors' attire throughout the years.

Photo credit: Public domain

Hockey became an Olympic sport in 1920. Despite being played outdoors, the men donned shorts, bare legs, wool sweaters, and no padding or helmets of any kind-including goalies!

Photo credits: Chris O'Meara, The Associated Press (L) and®

Nowadays, hockey players take the ice dressed for maximum comfort, speed, and protection. Sweaters are made from lightweight synthetic fabrics intended to wick away sweat and ergonomically fitted to players' bodies. Padding is worn underneath jerseys and all players (and officials) are required to wear helmets. Goaltenders are even allowed to have customized decorative paint jobs on their masks.

Photo credit: Public domain

Despite being barred from the first Olympics in 1896, women were allowed to participate in a few events (golf, lawn tennis, and yachting) starting in 1900. The first female Olympic medalist was Charlotte Cooper, a British tennis player. When she competed she wore a full-length skirt, long-sleeved button-up shirt and tie, and high-heeled, pointed-toe shoes! At the time it would have seemed improper for a woman to wear less, but it's pretty amazing anyone could play a sport in that get-up!

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