Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Golf apparel has come a long way from the days of stereotypical plaid pants, boxy ill-fitting silhouettes, stiff and shiny shoes, less-than-inspired design and polyester fabrics. Today’s trends for golf attire offer fashion-forward style, clean lines, cutting-edge design, athletic-inspired fit, innovative performance fabrics and a broad range of colors, cuts and sizes.
First things first: If you are new to the game, or plan to play at or join a new club and aren’t sure what the “right” clothing is for golf, the best thing to do is ask! Just like rules of the game, there are also rules for appropriate dress on course. But even those are relaxing in many places. Some argue for ditching the dress code entirely, but until that happens, know your audience. While a municipal course may have few or no restrictions on apparel, private courses often do have specific apparel etiquette for both men and women.
Beyond adhering to course norms, the sky is the limit these days for golf attire. Much like the huge trend in athleisure wear, most golfers live busy, active lives, and they expect their apparel to cross over from the course to a business meeting to casual dinner, brunch with friends, a parent-teacher conference and beyond.
In choosing golf apparel, one of the first things to determine is your personal style. Preppy, luxe, sporty, classic, edgy, European-inspired? Thankfully, you’ll find all these and more in today’s growing golf apparel market. In general, golf attire is tending toward a more athletic cut, with clean lines and European-inspired influences. Prints are popular options to stand out with a bit of fun.
Choose the style and brands that fit best with how and where you play, your lifestyle, your body type, design sense and budget, and then build on that. A few key, quality pieces will help you build a golf wardrobe that ties together for different seasons and climate, and easily transitions into other aspects of your life.
Most big names in golf equipment have apparel lines, but there are increasingly smaller, fashion-centric brands joining the market, too. Remember that you’ll want to be comfortable and able to move well while swinging, bending and standing – not just in the mirror.
Performance & Function
While it’s nice to look good, you also want to play your best. The popular ANNIKA collection with Cutter & Buck is now in its 15th year and still going strong. It was built on the personal style and performance standards of one of the game’s greatest players. But when Annika Sorenstam first signed with Cutter & Buck, designers sent her four pair of black shorts for a tournament in Hawaii, and none had a back pocket.
“I told them, `First of all, if I wear black every day, people won’t think I’m changing shorts. I need a little variety and then we also need a back pocket. Where am I going to put my scorecard and pencil?” she said. “These were designers. They said the back pocket doesn’t look so good. So, we put our heads together and now they design pockets that are functional and stylish.”
Activewear in general has made huge leaps in the last few years, becoming more practical, functional, technical and available in a wider range of sizes.
Fabrics & Layers Plaid pant jokes aside, there’s nothing wrong – and there’s actually a lot right – with polyester, or plaid for that matter. Polyester is an athletic fabric staple. But yes, it can trap bacteria, odor and become smelly. Lucky for all of us, depending on climate, season and personal preference, there are many other performance fabric choices for golf apparel.
In general, layers are always a good idea. It may be chilly to start a round, but in just a few hours, temperatures could soar. Sweaters with V-necks and half-zip openings make it easy to layer up or down as needed. You can choose cashmere, tech wool, fleece, blends and more. Do you like shorts or pants – in a slim or full cut? Skorts are a fantastic option for women, offering comfort, coverage, style and confidence.
Some other things to consider: Do you need wrinkle resistance and easy care? Is the fabric breathable, moisture-wicking, cooling or warm? Is sun protection important? If you live or play in a warm climate, do you sweat a lot, does it have built-in odor protection? Here’s a great primer on several different athletic fabrics, with their benefits and drawbacks.
Many people are increasingly aware of sustainability and responsibility in every aspect of their lives, including apparel. Some choose natural fabrics sourced from sustainable materials. They want to know where their clothing was made, with assurances that those making it earn a fair wage in safe working conditions.
Color The Pantone color of the year for 2020 is “Classic Blue.” The shade, reminiscent of the sky at dusk, is “a color that anticipates what’s going to happen next,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute. The institute chose the color based on signs of world instability, and said the color offers reassurance, confidence and connection that people may be searching for.
But don’t fret if you find blue boring. There are plenty of other hues popping out for the New Year. Vogue says bio-luminous neons, summer browns, seaweed greens and more offer depth and complexity for the coming seasons of 2020. There are sharper color contrasts in pairings. Think turquoise with lagoon grey, or bright orange with taupe. Fall runways showcased a full color palette for 2020 that “infuses heritage and tradition with a colorful youthful update that creates strong multi-colored combinations as well as energizing and optimistic pairings,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. Flame scarlet, Biscay green, coral pink, saffron and even faded denim took the stage during fall fashion shows.
Foot note You’ll want to underscore your golf wardrobe with equally functional and fashionable footwear, and again, things have come a long way. Golf shoes today offer athletic and street-savvy silhouettes with fashion, function, performance and comfort. Spikeless golf shoes are increasingly popular for their versatility as a crossover from the course to everyday life option.