A deep dive into women’s sporting fashion

Cummer focuses on fashion changes for athletes over the years


The latest exhibit to grace the halls of the Cummer Museum takes a look back at the styles of women’s fashion when playing sports.

The exhibit is called Sporting fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960 and will serve as the museum’s major spring showcase, having started in March and open to the public until May 19.

It is a traveling exhibit organized by the American Federation of Arts and the museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, and the Cummer marks the final stop on its national tour of museums.

According to Kim Kuta Dring, director of learning and engagement with the Cummer Museum, the unique idea for the exhibit began at the most grassroots level, after curator Kevin Jones got the idea for the exhibit 15 years ago after noticing an old scarf at a flea market that had the words “outdoor girl” sewn on it.

“That was the genesis for the entire exhibit, especially with his background in the fashion industry,” Dring said. “As a museum, we’re always looking for opportunities to present things that people can relate to.”

What makes the pieces of the exhibit even more unique is that each of the outfits has been previously worn by real women during the time periods mentioned, so they are not just theatrical pieces or material made solely for display.

There are so many different sports and the outfits associated with them shown throughout the exhibit, including archery, skating and skiing, so it delves beyond just the stick-and-ball sports.

The exhibit seeks to capture the true essence of each time period during the exhibit so that those viewing it can imagine what it would be like if they played those sports during that time as opposed to today.

“Women never wore pants, it was all long skirts and things that covered their ankles,” Dring said. “We know this is not the case nowadays but it’s fun to look back. These are things that we don’t even think about today.”

According to Dring, the exhibit stops in the 1960s because that was when the curator noticed that there were less dramatic changes being made to women’s sporting outfits and they began trending more similar to today’s fashion.

The Cummer is also working with many local organizations to host several interactive demonstrations, as well as fashion and art programs.

Sporting demonstrations included members of the Palm Valley Academy Middle School cheer team, Jax Pickleball Store and the Jacksonville Women’s Rugby Football Club.

The Florida Ballet Company will be hosting a demonstration on May 3 and the LPGA and USGA will be holding a girls golf interaction on May 17. Each demonstration is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and are free for guests with admission into the museum.

“Typically, at museums we’re looking and touching, and that’s why doing these demos with a number of local Florida organizations is so important to us,” Dring said. “These are real people demonstrating the real sports that they play.”

The Cummer is open every day of the week except Mondays and hours can be found at cummermuseum.org. Adult tickets are $20, while students (ages 6 to 17), seniors, military and educators receive a discounted rate of $15.