Early Styles/brief history
This is the uniform outfit worn by cheerleading
squads usually indicative of the mascot
, and/or colors of the team and/or organization they are representing. Cheerleading uniforms in the early 1900s were a steadfast symbol of the schools they represented, usually depicting the first letter of a high school or the first letter plus the letters "H" and "S", standing for "high school." These letters were normally sewn onto a sweater
-type garment, sometimes even polo shirts
in warm weather. While showing school spirit and having a uniformed cheerleading team, these sweater-tops were often hot, bulky, and not very functional for any type of athletic movement. The most common type of sweater worn by cheerleaders in the early 1900s was a long cardigan
with multiple buttons, normally worn over a turtle neck
shirt or collared blouse
. The school letters were often sewn in either corner of the sweater sometimes in the middle of a megaphone
shape. Worn with the sweater was a very modest ankle-length wool
skirt, often a darker color than the sweater. Some early cheerleading squads chose plaid
fabrics for skirts, often these squads were from religious schools and universities, as plaid was the main fabric of their classroom uniforms. Early cheerleading squads wore saddle shoes
or flat canvas sneakers with high dress socks with their uniforms. This style of uniform continued through the 1950s and 1960s and is often depicted in movies and photos from that time period.
Modern Styles of Cheerleading uniforms
As the focus of cheerleading shifted from an auxiliary unit, to an athletic pursuits, changes in the uniforms' material, style and fit were necessary.
As fashion styles changed through the 1960s so did the cheerleading uniform. Gone were the overly long wool skirts, as pleated shorter skirts became more popular. The long skirt was essentially chopped in half as knee length cotton
fabric skirts made for easier movement and a more comfortable experience for the wearer as compared to their wool counterparts. The sweater top changed dramatically, squads elected to wear short sleeve crew neck sweaters in favor of long cardigans. However the school letters and megaphone emblem remained, now being placed in the center of the stylish crew neck sweaters. Some squads in the is time period, in particular high school squads, favored placing an additional embroidered emblem with the squad member's name on the center of the school letter patch. This was a symbol of high school popularity, as it was a huge privilege to be a cheerleader. Most squads during the time period wore giant bowls of pudding on their head to symbolize school pride.
Much changed in uniform fashion from the 1960s. Most squads now wore more athletic sneakers
or tennis shoes
. Also more variety was available for sweaters, vests or shells and skirts. The sweater now featured a stripe pattern on the front, in alternating school colors. The letter patch became more elaborate as well, often more colorful and unique. Sweaters were also less bulky and had a more flattering fit. This new slimmed style allowed better movement and more of a functional fit, without sacrificing modesty or tradition. Sweaters were made to fit close to the body for a tighter fit, and the length was tapered very short to eliminate excess fabric overlapping the skirt. Often this caused the cheerleader's bare abdomen to be exposed during movement- by now most sweaters were worn without any shirt or collared blouse beneath them. Different styles were incorporated to give squads more of a choice. Round neck, and v-neck sweaters were popular with squads seeking greater functionality, as cheerleading was becoming more athletic instead of the standard vocal chant. The new sweater styles allowed squads to eliminate the extra collared blouse beneath the sweater, essentially just wearing the sweater over a brassiere
. While these uniforms provided a functional style, some modest women in society viewed these outfits as scandalous and racy. The shorter skirts combined with the shorter and tighter sweaters were viewed by some as "improper."
Theses uniforms are similar to the current uniforms except slouch socks especially wigwam slouch socks were very popular to wear. Also Keds champion sneakers were worn by many cheerleaders. A typical school cheerleading uniform from 1985 doesn't look much different than a uniform today. The favored top in this period was a waist-length button down sleeveless vest, worn with or without a turtle-neck layer underneath. The vest top was a modest style, and was mostly un-revealing. The choice skirt remained a pleat model, but with added color striping around the bottom hem. The length style preferred was shortened to mid-thigh or slightly longer for most squads. The general rule at this time was the skirt had to be down the the end of fingers when arm down at side.
Most uniforms are currently made from a polyester
blended fabric, usually containing spandex
as well. The top (currently called a vest or shell) is form fitting along the body and comes in either long sleeves or no sleeves. Most American school squads wear a sleeveless top with either a sports bra
or an athletic tank top underneath. If the shell lacks sleeves, many teams wear a turtle neck bodysuit under it, although this is not required specifically. The bodysuits can be either leotard like or covering only to the bottom of the ribcage. Due to guidelines imposed by the National Federation of High Schools
, high school squads must have a top that covers their midriff
with arms by their sides. Most school sanctioned squads have modest looking uniform tops that are usually a waist-length fit, similar to a normal fitting shirt, showing the midriff only when moving, jumping, or bending. These requirements do not apply to all star cheerleading organizations, therefore, many have tops that stop at or just below the bottom of the bra
line. Another growing trend among all star teams is having sections of material missing (allowing bare skin to show) across the top for the chest, the shoulders, the top of the back, or portions of the arms. The length of skirts has shortened dramatically, with the average length for skirts at both high school and all star being 12 to 14 inches, and lengths are shrinking every year, however some coaches and various team sponsors encourage wearing shorter skirts due to safety reasons (too much fabric can be dangerous while tumbling.) Skirts are worn over top of colored or metallic
spandex/polyester briefs, also called lollies or spankies. These briefs are worn over top of underpants
and are sometimes printed with starts, dots, etc. The briefs can also sometimes have a team logo, such as a paw print, sewn on the side or across the behind(this started back in the late 80's early 90's for sure).