Spectator Sports Style

^Attending sporting events was a popular leisure time practice during the 1920s. Fashion-conscious spectators dressed in attire appropriate for a variety of sports events. Often fashion was dictated by the weather. For instance, male and female college students who attended autumn and early winter football games wore bulky raccoon fur coats or heavy tan-colored camel hair and woolen polo coats belted at the waist or with a partial belt at the back. Women's sportswear was becoming more masculine. By the late 1920s college-aged women wore tailored woolen tweed suits with knee-length skirts and loose-fitting slacks to collegiate sports events.

Warm weather events such as horse races often were held in stylish surroundings such as resorts. Wealthy male spectators wore navy blue woolen blazers with gold buttons. In the late 1920s men and women began wearing black-and-white spectator sports style shoes. They were white wing-tipped leather shoes trimmed with black leather or patent leather at the toes and heels. Women wore spectator pumps with matching spectator handbags, white leather rectangular pocketbooks with a clasp at the top and black leather or patent leather trim at the four corners.

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) became the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He became an instant popular cultural hero to millions of Americans. By 1928 fans of Lindbergh bought mass-produced reproductions of his leather aviator jacket to wear at sports events.

Golf matches also were fashionable places to see and be seen. Men watching the golf games wore clothes that mimicked the players' outfits: three-piece sports suits that featured knickers (loose-fitting pants that ended just below the knees, usually fitted at the bottom by a button), a vest, and a jacket. These often were made of light-woven woolens or tweeds. Knickers were worn with colorful argyle (diamond-shaped pattern) knee socks. Many of the accessories to golf attire, such as ties, caps, and socks, often were fashioned from Scottish clan plaids, because the game of golf was developed in Scotland.


Young and handsome, modest and daring, Charles Lindbergh was probably the first massmedia celebrity. After performing the amazing feat of flying solo from New York to Paris, France, in his small airplane in 1927, Lindbergh became an international hero, adored by millions and hounded by the press. Lindbergh gained fame not only for his flight, but because he represented qualities of adventurous boldness that were highly valued during the 1920s. It was a time of new achievements and modern inventions, and, by flying across the Atlantic Ocean, Lindbergh had opened up a new world of possibilities.

Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1902. His father, a lawyer, and his mother, a science teacher, raised him in the small farm community of Little Falls, Minnesota, where young Charles learned independence very early. He began driving an automobile at the age of eleven and later dropped out of the University of Wisconsin to learn to fly airplanes. He loved flying and soon had a job flying mail from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago, Illinois. In 1927, when a New York hotel owner offered $25,000 to the first pilot to fly alone across the Atlantic, Lindbergh was determined at once to try. On May 21, 1927, he took five sandwiches and a bottle of water in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, and took off from New York's Roosevelt Field.

Lindbergh had sought to win money and fame for his accomplishment, but he had no idea what awaited him. When he landed, thirty-three hours later, in Le Bourget field in Paris, over 150,000 people had gathered to greet him. From that moment on he was a public figure, and newly created forms of mass media gave Lindbergh a kind of fame that no public figure had seen before. When Lindbergh returned to the United States, President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) presented him with medals. Millionaire Harry Guggenheim (1890-1971) paid for Lindbergh to fly his plane on a three-month tour of the United States, where he visited 48 states and gave 149 speeches in 92 cities. He was the hero of dozens of parades. Crowds followed him wherever he went. Admirers copied his clothes; his flight started a fad of wearing leather jackets and loose aviator pants. A popular new fast dance was called the "Lindy hop," because it made the dancers feel like they were flying. Several U.S. toymakers made "Lucky Lindy" dolls that looked like Lindbergh. When he married Anne Morrow (1906-2001) in 1929, reporters in motorboats followed them on their honeymoon cruise. A shy person, Lindbergh tried to avoid media attention when he could. He refused many offers that could have led to more fame, such as an offer from American newspaper publisher William Randolph

For tennis matches spectators wore variations of tennis players' garb. The major difference was that tennis players wore white only. Men often wore soft, loose-fitting white woolen flannel trousers with a navy blazer. Women wore knee-length pleated summer dresses in white or pastels, or loose trousers with pleats in the front. During the late 1920s many women chose to wear berets, or soft, wide rounded woolen caps with narrow headbands, with their spectator style clothing.

Hearst (1863-1951) of $500,000 to star in

Lindbergh and Anne continued to fly and to speak in favor of aviation all over the world. People were enchanted by the beautiful young couple and followed their adventures closely. However, the Lindberghs' celebrity had tragic results. In March 1932 their twenty-month-old son, Charles III, was kidnapped, and his dead body was found ten days later. Lindbergh always blamed the constant focus of the press for drawing the kidnapper's attention to his family. The kidnapping and the trial that followed it in 1934 were huge media events, followed closely by people all over the world.

Trying to escape his own fame, Lindbergh spent several years in Europe. He visited Germany frequently, and Hermann Goring (1893-1946), a high Nazi official, presented him with a German medal of honor. When he came back he spoke out against the United States's involvement in World War II (1939-45). Many people thought his speeches were pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish, and Lindbergh's popularity fell dramatically. He did join in the war effort, in the Pacific, where he went as a civilian, or non-military, adviser and managed to fly fifty combat missions.

Lindbergh spent most of the rest of his life quietly with his family, though he continued to fly and to promote air travel. A lifelong inventor, he

Hearst (1863-1951) of $500,000 to star in

World War England Fashions
Charles Lindbergh's leather aviator jacket and pants inspired a fashion trend. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

also helped a doctor friend invent a special pump for use in organ transplants. Lindbergh died of cancer on the island of Maui in Hawaii in 1974.


Peacock, John. Men's Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

Peacock, John. 20th Century Fashion. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1993.

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