A cheerleading uniform is a whole ensemble worn by athletes during games.
It is a standard type of clothing that comes with a top and a skirt.
The uniform incorporates the official color of the team and pleasing to the eye. Most of the time, cheerleaders wear pom-poms and bows as their essential accessories.
Modern-day cheerleading uniforms are often bright and colorful to attract the audience. It reflects the athleticism of the sport while keeping it glam looking. Cheerleaders would wear make-up with them to make the whole outfit more put together.
It is not a mere basic wearable for most cheerleaders. The uniform is also a symbol of pride and belongingness among the members. Wearing the school or team color and logo would make the dancer feel the team spirit.
A cheerleading uniform has its unique purpose. Besides wearing the school pride, it is also about how a dancer moves in pride and confidence. One noticeable characteristic of the uniform is how short a cheerleading skirt is. Often, you would see a pleated skirt cut above the knee in cheer.
In the beginning, the cheerleading skirts are bulky and oversized. Dancers would perform in modest, below-the-knee-cut skirts, saddle shoes, and matching socks. But this type of outfit gets in the way when performing. It is heavy and restricts the cheerleader from moving flawlessly.
It was Kraig Tallman who already revolutionized the cheerleading uniform. He made the cheerleading uniform shorter to make it more accessible for the cheerer. The ensemble is more streamlined and fitted, looking to allow the dancer to move freely.
Today, you would still see this kind of design in most cheerleading competitions. The outfit has body-hugging shell tops, short pleated skirts, and color blocking. It is not pleasing in the eye but allows freedom of movement, too.
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Who invented cheerleading outfits?
Cheerleading outfits were first introduced in the world by the Cheerleader Supply Company. It was Lawrence Herkimer of Dallas, Texas, who invented the cheerleading outfit. He was also the first one who started cheering camps and competitions.
The cheerleading outfit changed dramatically over the years. It also evolves along with the trends in fashion. One of the most significant changes in the uniform is the skirt. It gets shorter and shorter in the 80s and 90s.
Tallman is one of the most iconic figures that reinvented the design of the outfit. From ultra modest below-the-knee poodle skirts to skin-fitting spandex uniforms. He also limited the color palette to 18 athletic colors. These are the colors you usually see in high-school and college sports teams. It allows the cheer squads to appear almost the same as the conventional athletes.
Another significant contribution of Tallman is the incorporation of geometric patterns. The chevrons, zigzags, and stripe – the same man introduced all the patterns of the outfit. The focus here is to make the uniform more athletic that can work side by side with other sports.
Also, the cheerleading uniform evolves along with changes in cheer body movements. As cheerleading reinvented its moves, the uniform made dynamic changes, as well. A high-level cheerleading routine requires a more functional cheer outfit.
It means that the stunts, tumblings, and tosses should execute fast. The outfit should not restrain the cheerleading from doing challenging stunts.
Today, you would see the uniform in a plain A-line skirt instead of a pleated skirt. It is due to the increasing athletic element of the sport. The tumbling, tosses, stunts, and splits are better with a plain bottom. A pleated skirt will add more weight to the moves, thus restricting the movements of the dancer.
Also, the garments and texture used in the uniform have technical properties. The fabric used also helps the cheerleaders to function better and in flawless moves.
The short A-line skirts that come with a slit enable them to jump more in rigor. The skirt is clean-looking and offers better flexibility and movements than the jumpers. The short skirt also makes it easier to stunt, especially to the flyers. The bases can grab the flyers’ legs fast during stunts without any material getting in the way. As a result, the stunt should execute more perfectly, and the job became more accessible.
One thing that never changes in the uniform is the incorporation of cheer bows. The bow is a defining element of the whole outfit. But it became more glamorous and trendy through the years.
The cheer bow polishes the entire cheerleading outfit. It is also the one basic accessory cheerleaders who would never leave. They collect the bows, use them during practice, and up their use for it.
It is one accessory that separates cheerleading from other sports. The cheer bows make the sport more unique, distinctive, and more colorful. The bow is also a symbol of glitz and glamour that provides highlights on the level of competition. The big hair, the enormous ponytail is highly emphasized with the use of a cheer bow.
How long should a cheer skirt be?
Cheerleading skirts tend to be shorter compared to their predecessors. But there are still specific rules you should about how long the skirt should be. If you are competing for high school cheerleading, pay attention to the skirt length.
If designing for a uniform, consult the uniform rules, especially in high school cheer. There are particular standards set to follow to avoid disqualification.
In high school cheer, the skirt should be 12-14 inches long. On the other side, a college cheer skirt must cover the hops without being too long or tight. All-star cheer varies depending on the competition.
For more specific uniform guidelines, you should also refer to the following:
High school cheer
The National Federation of High School Associations sets the rules in this category. Based on NFHS, the cheer squad uniform tops have full coverage of the midriff. There must be a certain amount of mid-section showing but does not show full skin. If it happens, you might be violating the high school cheer rules.
It would help if you kept the uniform as modest as possible. Also, the tops should be waist-length that fully cover the front side of the body. Please take note that it is okay to show your arms and shoulders when wearing sleeveless shirts. The top should not be backless, and the back construction can also provide coverage to the upper body.
The skirt has a certain length required and should be word alongside an undergarment. No jewelry is the rule when in the competition. The only accessory you can use are the pom-poms and cheer bows. Acrylic and long fingernails are also not permitted.
In coed college cheer, there are separate uniform guidelines for boys and girls. As a general rule, no uniform should be sexually provocative. It also discourages significant wardrobe malfunctions. Thus, the uniform must be sewn in solid and tight construction.
Males should wear torso-length uniforms from shoulders down to the waist. The sleeves can both be short or long and must meet the midway of shoulder and elbow. Males can also wear either rounded or v-neck tops. For bottoms, boys must wear pants that can fully cover the waist to the feet. Shorts are also allowed but must not be higher than mid-thigh.
For females, there are also specific rules. You can use shell, crop, or midriff top. The top length must fall at least one inch below the bra line. You should not wear an extremely low-cut neckline to avoid showing too much of your skin. Dancers cannot wear backless tops cannot exist in this category.
Your skirts should cover your full hips and must avoid over-cut short and tight skirts. The cheerleader should also refrain from wearing low-rise waistbands. The cut must not be lower than 2 inches below the navel.
Shoes are also part of the uniform. White cheer shoes are preferable.
All-star is more glamorous. And they sometimes compete with how well-constructed the uniform is. As a general rule, all-star must not wear jewelry, body piercing, and tattoos.
All-star is also particular with the shoes they wear. Soft-sole shoes are ideal. The dance or gymnastics slippers must not be part of the uniform.
For props, you can wear flags, banners, pom-poms to highlight the routine. The props should also ensure the safety of the members. No risk of hazard present when using props.
When did cheerleader skirts get short?
Cheerleading started in the 30s. During that time, dancers would wear below-the-knee-cut pleated skirts when cheering. Yet, with the ever-increasing demands of movements, the skirt also changes its course.
It was in the 1960s that the cheer uniform started to evolve in a significant manner. During this decade, cheerleaders began wearing short skirts for games and events. As they became more active and stunts tend to be more complex, the outfit also became shorter.
Here are the significant changes in the cheer uniform:
The 1960s – Modest and pleated
At the beginning of the 1930s, cheerers would wear over and long wool skirts in the event. It changed during the introduction of pleated shorter skirts in the 1960s. The skirt was massively chopped off in half and became knee-length. The fabric used is more comfortable with the use of cotton. It makes the movement so much easier. The team would also wear short sleeve crew neck sweaters in this period.
The 1970s – More athletic and tennis shoes
After the significant change in the 60s, the cheer uniform still did not stop evolving. In the 1970s, the squads became more athletic, and as the uniform. They use tennis shoes as comfortable footwear.
You can see more elements in this period. You would see sweaters, vests or shells, and shorter skirts.
The 1980s & 1990s – Keds and Wigman
IT is almost the same as the current outfit we see today. During this time, the slouch socks, particularly the Wigwam slouch socks was fave wear. Keds champion sneakers are also in the uniform on a broader scale. A turtleneck top underneath a sweatshirt was also a highlight of this period. Bike shorts were also part of the uniform worn underneath.
Material is the premium concern of uniforms nowadays. Besides the design, manufacturers put attention to the fabric used. The uniform is from polyester blended fabric coupled with spandex material. In all-star cheer, you would see shiny foiled covered stretch material. Dye-sublimated uniforms are also usual. It is cost-effective and adds a more personalized style to the cheerleader.
Cheerleading theatrically changed over the years. Along with the evolution of this sport, the uniform transitioned, as well. If you trace the history of cheer, the uniform was the constant element of the change.
The change in uniform and the length of the skirt correspond to the demands of movements. As the movement became challenging and riskier, the skirt tends to get shortened. So, dancers wearing short skirts are familiar due to the sport’s acrobatic nature.