Wimbledon 2012 fashion in a word: white — well mostly

Few countries know how to uphold tradition as staunchly as the Brits, and we Americans not only admire their tenacity in clinging to traditions, but also enjoy making jabs at long-sacred customs like the “all-white” convention at the All-England Club Championships. Our rebellious spirit probably dates back to a little tea party in the Boston Harbor over two hundred years ago. But at Wimbledon, we’re just having some fun.

Most of the Wimbledon fashion buzz has revolved around who’s flaunting the “white rule” most flagrantly.A quick history lesson: the “predominantly white” regulation was brought out in 1963, and in 1995, the “almost entirely in white” rule became valid. The All England Lawn Tennis Club’s dress code guidelines specify preference for no solid mass of “colouring,” “little or no dark, bold or fluorescent colours,” and a preference for accent colors in pastels.


Thus it came as no surprise that Serena’s outfit, a sleek white dress with magenta Nike swoosh and matching headband and tennis shorts underneath, caused quite a stir at the tradition-bound AELTC. Even the official Wimbledon website offered commentary about Serena’s outfit, suggesting that this year’s infractions of the white dress code might be related to the decision to relax the all-white rule for the Olympics, in order for countries to wear uniforms sporting their national colors. Ha! I can’t imagine Serena or Nike were “confused” at all — they were just pushing the edge, rocking the boat in Great Britain. And Serena has the tennis and star power to back up her mini-rebellion.


Maria Sharapova’s Wimbledon outfit, also by Nike, was similar to Serena’s, but it fit within the Wimbledon guidelines. She wore her usual visor, in white this time, and the trim on her slim-fitting white dress was light green, matching the grass of the All England Club. While her green tennis shorts might have been a bit out of line with the dress code, I’d wager the men who interpret the AELTC regulations were happy to overlook that detail, since it was Maria’s green tush they were glimpsing from time to time.


 Rafa, Rafa. Such a shame he lost to Rosol — especially since his Wimbledon fashion was the perfect combination of “predominantly white,” yet youthful (no collar), as well as slightly unusual — with red, grey and black triangles subtly merging in stripes across his shoulders. The look worked well for his ferocious style of play — too bad we didn’t get to watch him play more matches.


 Of course all British and especially Scottish eyes are on Andy Murray, so a fashion review wouldn’t be complete without a glance in his direction. He’s switched the orange shorts of the French Open for predominantly white ones — a change for the better. He’s still looking a little scruffy, but perhaps that’s a look his countrymen love, or at least will tolerate.


Another athlete sponsored by Adidas is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. I particularly like his outfit, because the slanting orange stripes on the shirt and shorts convey a sense of motion that complements Tsonga’s style of play. Even though he’s a big guy, he moves well, and he’s fun to watch on TV. His victory celebration dances are famous.


Roger Federer is sporting a classic Wimbledon look: tailored white tennis shorts and a white polo shirt, trimmed with a green Nike swoosh and narrow green and purple stripes around the collar — a nod to the official colors of the Wimbledon Grand Slam. It’s a sharp fashion selection that might help even a weekend tennis warrior take up his game a notch.But let’s be honest: pretty much anything looks good on Roger.



One benefit of the white regulations is that more of the doubles teams look good. Often doubles partners look rather mis-matched fashion-wise, since they wear the clothing supplied by their individual sponsors. But when everyone has to wear white, doubles duos actually look like they planned their outfits to work together. There are two sets of American siblings playing doubles at Wimbledon, and both are good examples of doubles tennis fashion.


The Williams sisters, formidable individually, prove highly intimidating when they’re on the same side of the net. Fashion-wise, Serena still wears Nike outfits, and Venus models clothes of her own design company (EleVen). Serena has been wearing the same magenta headband, but her skirt and top are a bit more toned-down than the dress she wears for her singles matches. The back of Venus’ dress is simply gorgeous, with its sheer panel and asymmetrical line across the shoulders.


We’ll end with the Bryan Brothers, a doubles team that always dresses alike. Their Wimbledon shirts, by K-Swiss, are the same as Mardy Fish wears: they have subtle black horizontal lines of different lengths. But what makes their look fun is its slight touch of rebellion against the Wimbledon rules. The photo doesn’t show it, but both twins have fluorescent yellow shoelaces. Their laces match the tennis balls, as well as the edges of their racquet frames. It’s a coordinated look, and just the right amount of rule-bending to communicate that Mike and Bob Bryan respect tradition, but also like doing things their own way. Maybe that’s the key to another Wimbledon Doubles Championship.

As we head into the final weekend of Wimbledon, there will be lots of great tennis to watch on TV. While some of the fashion icons have been eliminated, others are still playing, and there are new ones to look for as well. So stock up on strawberries and cream, hope it stops raining over SW19, and enjoy British tradition on the grass.


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