The U.S. Open arrives in NYC tomorrow! To celebrate: my picky tennis picks.
I love tennis SO much. Partially for the physical activity it awards me (and being forced to put down my phone) but at least 50% for the outfits. Tennis has become my sport of adulthood….pretty much for the skirts. I’m also extremely competitive so that might be part of it, but not the point.
People say to me ALL THE TIME “I’m not good enough to wear a skirt.” This is just not true!!! I started playing tennis as an adult, about seven years ago. Pretty sure I bought the skirt before I bought the racket. So if you are one of those people, just buy the skirt already and enjoy every second of wearing it. No one is going to look at you funny. They will probably just be jealous. Look good! Play good (well)!
My tennis wardrobe is very edited. I don’t love most of the faux-retro stuff or the proliferation of athleisure labels getting into the game. Of course there are exceptions, but I find the most fun tennis outfits to be made from extremely classic silhouettes and fabrics. Below, my favorite tennis everything plus a few bonus tennisy things. All shot in my bedroom of course, because I would rather die than ask my tennis instructor to take my picture.
My Ride Or Die
I wear this skirt more than anything else to play tennis. In August with my Sweet Martha’s t-shirt. (Happy Minnesota State Fair to all those who celebrate!) The rest of the time with a Lacoste pique polo or neon Aritzia t-shirt. A cotton t-shirt feels like a less intimidating pairing with a skirt than a “workout top” so if you are hesitant to wear a skirt due to your skill level, maybe just pairing it with the t-shirt you slept in will take the pressure off!
But back to the skirt. I don’t really understand how the geniuses at Tory Sport do it, but they’ve managed to create an extremely structured look and feel in a machine washable skirt. I have two of this skirt and just got the flat front version too. The one thing I will say about these, since they are very precious to me, is that I hang them in my closet instead of folding with the rest of my workout clothes. In fact, I actually hang all my tennis skirts. And so should you. It helps the pleats’ lifespan.
You have to wear separate shorts under this skirt, which doesn’t bother me, though I know is a deal breaker for some of you…a built-in-shorts-skirt at the bottom of this post for those. I usually wear these Tory Sport shorts but any little white tennis shorts will do.
Non-stretch. Not just for jeans.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO WEAR SPANDEX TO PLAY TENNIS.
With that said, my favorite tennis kit at the moment is this semi-awkward length set from P. Johnson. P. Johnson, if you are not familiar, is an impossibly cool tailor shop from Australia. Their women’s tennis pieces feel extremely old fashioned yet somehow more new than most of what is out there. The polo sleeves are extra long, like a men’s length, but without drowning the body. There is a sweater vest in the mix. And the skirt, also long, is voluminous. I love putting it on so much. It is unlike any other tennis clothing out there. If you are one for a bit of a fashion statement, or you like interesting proportions, or if you just want to get some fun stares at Starbucks, this is the set for you. (The fabric is also divine!)
I also wear the polo for non-tennis all the time. With jeans and sandals, with my Patagonia baggies, etc. It looks less preppy for everyday than a Lacoste or RL polo and therefore balances my summer throw-ons in a way that doesn’t feel too on the nose.
It’s hard to talk about tennis style without talking about Fila. I of course love their Bjorn Borg era stuff. But since so many people/brands are embracing a sort of faux retro look now, I find myself looking for what’s next. For me, that’s 80s women’s color blocking. I love this dress. It feels like it could have been bought on eBay. But like…without the smell. The fabric is incredibly thin which makes it great for playing in a million degrees. It’s the only tennis dress I am wearing at the moment.
Excuse me, do you work here?
So I may look like I work at the juice bar or pro shop in these shorts, but who cares? They give me Stacey Carosi vibes, if you know what I mean.
These shorts fall under the same category of Preppy Handbook tennis as P. Johnson, but a little softer on the wallet. I wish they didn’t have the W on the waistband, but only because I don’t like competing logos (this also goes for your designer bags, belts and shoes people!) and my polos mostly have Lacoste crocos on them. Otherwise, their weight, off-white color, and big pockets for extra balls make these big winners.
About the polo. I don’t think there’s anything better than a Lacoste pique polo to play tennis in. I am not usually a logo person, but for sporting goods, I am a bit of a brand snob. I think it has to do with the branding of “heritage sports” but they’ve totally got me. The Lacoste polos hold up extremely well, even if I am paying for a logo. I have sweated, washed and dried the polo in this picture countless times and it still looks good (and white). And a collar has proven to be essential for playing outside in the summer and not scortching the back of my neck…so I guess they were on to something there. Anyway, it might seem ridiculous to pay so much for a cotton polo shirt, but I find that I buy less of them when I just stick to this one. And the overall look is better for it!
New Yorkers Wear Black…Sometimes
I pretty much only wear white in the boiling NYC summer season but when it gets cold out I start to lean into black. These are the only two black items in my tennis wardrobe but they come in handy when I’m in a “what would Elin Kling wear” mood. The skirt is by Wilson. It has a wide elastic waist so its very comfortable and has the shorts built in. And the top is Nike dryfit. I like the long sleeves and of course, the Nike logo (see Lacoste above.)
I’ve been eyeing this little Fila skirt and I just found it on sale for $19!
My next black skirt purchase will be this one from Venus Williams’ collection.
Revo polarized lenses are THE best for glaring sun. I like a super sporty pair because they stay on your face so well. But these petite aviators are also cute and maybe less ridiculous looking.
How great are these Shaun Ellison paintings?
Try tall socks, Gen Z says so! I exclusively wear these (and the Tory pom poms of course.)
That’s all for today. Hope this gets you out there and moving this week! Or at least encourages napping to sports on TV!
P.S. It’s been a month now and I just wanted to say THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. This newsletter has proved to be a real labor of love. I got a very nice email from a reader this week asking about paid vs free content so thought I’d copy and paste my reply.
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“I’m not good enough to wear a skirt.” That was me for the first 3.5 years I played tennis, and I finally gave in this summer and started buying skirts. They are so much better than leggings and so much more fun!
Cute stuff! Love the sunglasses. ♥️