“I don’t design clothes, I design dreams” is a famous quote by fashion designer Ralph Lauren. It is also a good introduction to describe the new women’s golf fashions for 2017.
The feature photo of Michelle Wie in the LPGA’s March tournament in Singapore is a good starting point. Some readers will dream about wearing that new Nike Flex women’s golf skort. (It’s about 4 inches shorter than any skort in their closet.) Others will be concerned about their course’s dress code, and still others will think her outfit is against all golf traditions and ruining the game.
Where am I on this issue? I am for new styles and looser dress codes. I am for change that brings golfers – especially more girls and women to the golf course. I am told that in Sweden, for instance, where there are fewer months of summer, women may golf in halter tops and enjoy more sunshine. And look how many famous women golfers come from Sweden!
But whether or not you like or approve of Wie’s short skort, fashion is a bigger element than ever of 2017 golf apparel!
Why? According to Harlene Udovich, the buyer of all apparel for the five shops at PGA National Golf Resort (pictured above) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, she credits two factors. The first is that big companies like Nike and Adidas were early leaders in putting fashion in their sports clothes on stylish players like Michelle Wie. And, the second factor she credits is Tiger Wood’s influence as a fashion leader. When Tiger wore red, he set fashion trends. And as a result golf’s on-course and off-course stores became more fashion conscious and designers followed.
But the bottom line is that – in my opinion – the 2017 women’s golf clothes are the best that I can recall. They are golf fashions to dream about: Great new fabrics and styles that offer practical comfort on the course and off the course – in fact, all day long.
The important buzz-word for this season’s fashions is “lifestyle.” And I heard it everywhere – from designers and the buyers and managers of pro shops at golf facilities.
For example, in this photo I am wearing a black-patterned shirt from the new Annika Collection, black pants with a great stretch fabric from LISETTE L Sport – Montreal, and over my shoulder is a solid black shirt from the popular SansSoleil collection of sun-protected tops. I can play a quick nine holes in the morning, then head directly to the office and then to dinner with my husband. Golf clothes are the anchor to my lifestyle.
Why has “lifestyle” become the key word for 2017 golf fashions? First, I think it’s because more people are dressing more casually in general. Second, golf fashion designers have borrowed new synthetic fabrics from the fitness/clothing industry. But, it is not that women are wearing gym clothes to the golf course. It is that there is not much difference between gym clothes and golf clothes – it’s all just “lifestyle” wherever your life is taking you that day.
For example, this NIKE top and pants (from the PGA National Pro Shop) meets all dress codes for the golf course but uses a fabric perfect for the gym and fitness center. And if you put a little black jacket over that outfit, it’s fine for dinner. That’s what “Lifestyle” is all about.
The influence of gym styles is also noticeable in this new shirt from Bette & Court – a division of Sport Haley. The fabric is a light synthetic and offers sun protection. The neckline is just like that on a sweatshirt, but it will be very cool and stylish on the golf course and almost everywhere.
How do I know all these trends and new styles? I walked the miles of aisles of golf’s largest merchandise show in Orlando, Florida at the end of January. I interviewed dozens of designers – pressing them on what’s really new.
I interviewed the buyers of women’s clothing for golf shops at golf facilities. I shopped at local off-course women’s golf stores. And I am constantly checking the internet for the newest women’s golf fashions.
I view the new fashions through my eyes as a golfer. How would I feel wearing this? Will I be comfortable swinging a golf club or will that bottom ruffle annoy me? Is there a pocket for my tees? Can I put a nice layer over it and dress it up a bit? Will it pass Ralph Lauren’s “dream test?”
There is so much to describe and share that I decided to organize my reviews around ten True/False questions. Most of the time, there is one clear and correct answer. However, occasionally, the answer is not that clear because fashion trends never stand still.
Women’s Golf Fashion – True or False?
1The LPGA Tour has a rule for the length of the players’ skirts and skorts.
The LPGA does have a dress code (see below), but it is very relaxed and has no restrictions on the length of skirts or skorts. And that is the reason that Michelle Wie can wear Nike’s 14-inch skirts. (She can also wear halter tops not permitted in most private courses.)
Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand who also plays on the LPGA Tour almost always wears shorts of the length in this photo. They are not much shorter – if at all – than the NIKE skort worn by Michelle Wie. (If anyone knows who designs Ariya’s shorts, please send that info to me in a Tweet or Facebook message.
For fact-checkers: Here’s the LPGA’s dress code from its website:
Yes, the LPGA does have a dress code. We allow sleeveless and collarless shirts to be worn during play. There is no specific length requirement on shorts or skirts. Denim, cut-offs, workout clothes are not allowed.
More about dress codes: Here’s the dress code on my home course in Florida, which is similar to many codes at private courses in the U.S.: “Proper golf attire is required on the Golf Courses and Golf practice facilities. Ladies are not permitted to wear jeans, tennis or short shorts.”
Hmmm? What is “proper golf attire?” I asked the Golf Director of the Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa where the Solheim Cup will be held this August about their dress code. It requires that women’s shorts, skirts and skorts be mid-thigh.
Well, how tall are you? How long are your legs? Where is your mid thigh? How short is a forbidden “short-short-.” Golf committees at many courses have dealt with those types of questions. Most often the answer will be a subjective decision rather than a rule based on the length of the skirt or how many inches the bottom of the skirt is above the golfer’s knees.
Here’s my suggestion for deciding what’s “too short” for you. Select your favorite golf skirt, skort or short that you regularly wear at your course and measure how long it is. Use that measurement as a guide in your purchases. In my closet, I found that most of my favorites were 17 to 18 inches long.
That’s a perfect lead into the next True/False question:
2Skirts and skorts will be shorter than in previous seasons.
TRUE. But not much shorter!
Important exceptions are Nike skorts (worn by Michelle Wie) and PUMA skorts (worn by Lexi Thompson). Both companies offer retail lines with much shorter skirts that are similar to what their endorsed golfers wear. But both companies also offer longer versions. If you are ordering skirts or skorts on the internet, always check the details about length to make sure you can wear them at your course.
Annika Collection: One of my favorite line of skorts is from the Annika Collection at Cutter & Buck. The pull-up-skort has a wide waistband (sometimes in contrasting colors) that is very comfortable and slimming. Annika is Captain of Team Europe in the Solheim Cup this coming August in Des Moines, Iowa.
Yes, Cutter & Buck will design Team Europe’s blue and yellow outfits. And I will be watching to see if they feature that wide waistband.
An interesting fashion counter-trend in the Kevan Hall line is the longer 19” skirt. Kevan Hall recently expanded his high fashion women’s line to include women’s golf clothes. Going after the working-woman-golfer, he has designed a skirt that is slightly longer – 19 inches – that will look terrific on the course and the office as an alternative to pants. It will be interesting to watch if other designers follow his “longer” lead.
3Skirts and skorts will feature a straighter look with no pleats or flares.
Skirts and skorts are fuller rather than straight. These examples of the black and turquoise combinations from GG Blue Luxe Sport are a good example. And the collection includes the new “dress look” when the black and white print shirt and matching black and white print skort are worn as one outfit.
The Lucky in Love designers have experience designing for the tennis industry, but they see an opportunity in women’s golf. Their booth at the PGA Merchandise Show was busy, and their skorts and skirts are a good example of the use of pleats.
4Golf shirts will be longer than in previous seasons.
You may not even notice it if you are tall, but for those of us not slim or tall, we will have to get used to a longer top. Often the longer top looks just fine over pants, but I find that the longer tops over skirts make me look “dumpy.” (That’s not an official golf term!)
My solution is to take my tops to a local dressmaker who shortens them a couple of inches at a very reasonable cost. Yes, sometimes I lose a logo or a side-slit in the shortened version, but it’s worth it.
The longer tops are featuring more detail. The yellow shirt on the left is from the Greg Norman Collection. Note the detail at the bottom to add a little flair to the longer top. The red shirt on the right is from the JoFit line, and here more detail is added at the neckline for a more interesting look.
5 Many more skirts, shorts and skorts will require a belt.
The key word is “require.” Almost all bottoms are pull-ups with stretchy waistbands. If there are belt loops, it is usually just a design feature because many of the bottoms do not even have a side or front opening.
Daily Sports – one of my favorite designers – has a beautiful new short. Yes, it has belt loops but needs no belt. Note that the new shorts featured this season don’t have those “old fashioned” pleats at the waist.
But if you love belts and love to tuck in your shirt, the Nexbelt line of belts that can be customized to your fit are a good choice. However, as Stacy Collins, the buyer at Frenchman’s Beach and Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens where I live and play, reminds me that what goes out of fashion, comes back in fashion. So don’t throw out that bag of belts at the bottom of your drawer just yet.
6The “in” color this coming season is purple
But it will really show up in the September/fall lines.
There were hints of it already in the new Greg Norman line. All designers I spoke with confirmed that purple was the trendy new color. However, it may not be a standard purple. Some designers will have a softer lilac color, and others will move to the burgundy shades.
7Prints are out – solid colors are in
FALSE, FALSE, FALSE!
There has never been a season where I have seen more prints! And the newest trend in prints is matching prints on top and bottom which brings back the dress look – without the dress! The prints range from small scale to large leafy prints. Here is a collection of prints – Tzu Tzu is a new designer showing for the first time at the Merchandise Show – and won “Best in Show” in the New Products Division.
8 Women’s golf shorts are making a comeback
Yes, they are, but they are not the shorts you probably have in the back of your closet. The new designs do not have pleats at the waist (remember those?). And the new shorts have wider legs and use the newer lighter fabrics. These new white shorts in the JoFit line have no pleats, no cuffs and no zippers.
As Stacy Collins at Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club describes it, “The new shorts just have more fashion in them.”
9Golf shirts use solid fabric – no sheer or see-through fabrics
This may be my favorite question every since I bought my Daily see through golf shirt and matching skort. And then I saw a brand new Jamie Sadak top with a mesh inlay, and then I saw a Jo-Fit top with mesh. I knew I was on to something. And then I saw a brand new see-through shirt in the newest Annika collection. You won’t see this “see-through” look everywhere but when you do, tweet it!
10A new top “layer” would be a great gift.
Not just for a holiday but just because gifts are nice anytime. After a round of golf, you may be headed straight out to dinner and need another “layer” for a different look. Or, you need that layer for warmth. As some of the European designers like Bogner (a ski clothes manufacturer) have come into the golf market, there is no shortage of layers. The choice has never been better.
Thanks to the following two fashion experts who generously spent hours talking with me about women’s golf fashions:
Stacy Collins is the General Merchandise Manager for the golf shop at Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where I live and play golf. Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club has 600 homes, two golf courses, and an active women’s golf organization. Stacy has been in the golf merchandise business for thirty years mostly at private and semi-private clubs that are customer-focused. “I am shopping with our members” is how Stacy describes her role as merchandise buyer. And since members visit the shop often, she has to keep adding new merchandise to stay up-to-date on the women’s golf fashion market. She was terrific to interview because she could answer and share her expertise on all my questions about “What’s New” in women’s golf. When I asked her what her biggest challenge was, she answered: “Keeping up with the LPGA.”
Harlene Udovich is the Director of Retail for the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. With five golf courses, over 160,000 rounds of golf (including the home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic) and five different shop locations in the resort, Harlene is an expert in merchandising. In addition to the golf pro shop, she also selects the apparel for the resort’s tennis, pool, spa and fitness centers. Harlene introduced me to the current crossover from fitness to golf wear and the term “lifestyle” to explain it.
She shared the golf fashion trends: Everyone has a print in their line; purple is the “in” color for fall and her view that dress codes at golf courses will have to change to accommodate the millennial generation and the styles from NIKE. I like this photo of Harlene showing off the Peter Millar golf shirt and skirt with the trendy matched prints (almost the look of a dress). Yes, I bought it!
Nancy Berkley is an expert on women’s golf and junior-girls golf in the U.S. A special interest of hers is encouraging business women to enjoy golf with colleagues and clients. Nancy is a member of the World Golf Foundation Women’s Committee and a member of the National Golf Foundation. Nancy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Harvard University, Rutgers Law School and has a degree from the Professional Management Program of Harvard Business School.
Describing herself as a good bogey golfer with permanent potential, Nancy shares news about women’s golf – along with her opinions on berkleygolfconsulting.com and nancyberkley.com. She is looking forward to on-site reporting from the Solheim Cup in Iowa in August.
See all of Nancy’s WomensGolf.com articles.
1. Feature photo of Michelle Wie courtesy of LPGA media.
2. Ariya Jutanugarn courtesy of LPGA media.
3. 2017 PGA Merchandise Show – www.pgashow.com
4. All other photos by Nancy Berkley.