As I'm sitting in the frozen tundra that is my office, I find it difficult to realize that spring's fastpitch softball season will be here before we know it. I may have to go through a massive thawing out period between now & then. But the latest styles in fastpitch unis...(with an homage to Paris Hilton)...They're HOT!
Fastpitch uniforms have undergone a dramatic stylistic surge in the past 5-6 years. Long gone are the days when female athletes were reduced to playing in what were essentially men's bar league-esque knock-offs or baseball unis with drawstring pants. Manufacturers have awakened from their "style slumber" to seriously address the unique needs & desires specific to fastpitch softball played by female athletes.
But have they sacrificed "substance" at the altar of style?
There's no denying the fact that female athlete's have --in general-- a greater interest in wearing stylish uniforms than their male counterparts. That's not to say that ALL female athlete's are so sartorially inclined, nor that there aren't many male, uniform divas. It's just an demographic assessment culled from my decade or so of seeing the unis for thousands of fastpitch teams.
I will admit that I have sat through more than one viewing of the movie "A League of Their Own". I can't say that it was because I was a huge fan of the WWII era uniforms featured therein. No, this was back when I still found Madonna mildly interesting and Rosie O'Donnell almost bearable. (That's so 1993!) My how timers have changed. (Did Geena Davis fall off the planet?) Any way...
The fastpitch unis of today (and certainly for this upcoming season) have performance fabric options, a broad swath of color options & honest to god attention to the needs & interests of the female athletes, both young and, er, older athletes who actually play the sport.
Example: Low-rise sliding shorts. These very popular items did not exist just 5 years ago. That's progress.
But is it style over substance? I think not.
Another case in point: Jerseys with a racer back cut. Granted, they look good on some players and, well, maybe not so good on others. But the intention of the design is to improve the athlete's performance. In others words, substance.
Kind of anti-intuitive but true is the fact that the biggest "stylistic" growth has been in stock uniforms. Many manufacturers now offer a wide selection of unis with trims, piping and braiding in their "off the shelf" styles. Again, 5 years ago, the words "stock softball uniform" were synonymous with "Plain Jane". That is simply not the case ---not at all-- these days. Again, that's progress.
Add to this the increased interest in & usage of sublimated unifoms. Here multi-colors abound. And team emblem designs are limited only by one's imagination.
That's a potent mix of style and substance.
Sports Uniform Guy