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Style Advice

Your guide to tennis style

Your guide to tennis style

Although being quite the trend right now, tennis style has been turned to by those in fashion since, well, players have been whacking a ball around. And with Wimbledon just around the corner, this is the perfect time to brush up on your tennis style knowledge – even if you've never picked up a racquet in your life. 

“At first glance, tennis might not be the obvious choice to draw inspiration from,” says stylist Toby Standing. “But, when you dig a little deeper, some of the most iconic pieces in menswear have a solid place in your average tennis getup.” And with that said, let’s get into it. 

The history of tennis style

No surprises here, the history of tennis style begins with, you guessed it, tennis players. The game grew popular in Victorian England, and the clothing always seemed to match the fashions of the time (kind of like it still does now). Player Bill Tilden is widely known as the first male fashion icon, leading many to emulate his style of dress on (and off) the court. Then came Henry Austin who decided to ditch the flannel trousers and step out in a pair of shorts instead, which of course revolutionized the sporty style all together. 

It wasn’t until the ‘70s when a little bit of colour got introduced – not much, just a hint of pastel. It was mostly due to the spectators complaining that the all-white ensembles made it harder to distinguish between players. Oh, and this is when headbands became a thing too, which both Björn Borg and John McEnroe were huge fans of. 

From the ‘90s onwards, tennis style has remained more than a professional exclusive or an easy-to-ace Halloween costume. Iconic brands like Fred Perry and Lacoste are staples in most men’s (and women’s for that matter) wardrobes all-year-round, so if you’ve not already invested in the aesthetic, we think it’s about time you did.

How to incorporate tennis style into your everyday 

Footwear

Photographed: Adidas Stan Smith Vegan (£99)

“Probably the easiest way to incorporate tennis style into your everyday is with your footwear,” Toby says. And what better way to do so than with the iconic Stan Smiths. Originally named after French tennis player Robert Haillet, the low-top, white trainer from Adidas took on the moniker ‘Stan Smith’ in the mid ‘70s and has continued to skyrocket since then. And the universal appeal of the trainer really does know no bounds, with the classic shoe being the subject of numerous collaborations including with iconic Belgian designer Raf Simons and more recently, Kermit the Frog. 

Summer knits

Photographed: Corridor Washed Cotton Cardigan (£165)

Whether it be Roger Federer in an opulent cardigan or John Newcombe in a knit vest, “another great style lesson we can learn from the players is the versatility of the summer knit.” These are a great way to layer up in the warmer months and pair well with any sort of short, so you’ll don’t have to worry about feeling too warm. Plus, they’re just a subtle nod to the trend whereby you won’t look like you’re actually going to spend the afternoon on the courts, you’ll just look like you know a thing or two about the game.

Polos

Photographed: Fred Perry M3600 (£65)

We’re quite the advocates for polos here at Thread – read here for how to pull them off. And of course, they’re completely reminiscent of tennis style, according to Toby “it’s the most iconic item to come out of sport.” The best part is not only are they a great way to embrace the trend in 2021; they truly are timeless and will always be a strong-worker in your wardrobe. “They’re perfect for this time of year when you want something a little dressed-up but still just as comfy as a t-shirt.”


Words: Yasmine Kennedy
Styling: Toby Standing