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‘The Leaning Tower of Pizzazz’: Ted Tinling, couturier for the women’s professional tennis revolution

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From 1947 until his death in 1990, Ted Tinling created couture fashion pieces for the world’s top tennis stars. A dressmaker in London’s famed Mayfair fashion district, Tinling turned to women’s tennis fashion after World War II due to the constraints on his creativity that the post-war rationing of goods caused. Tinling created some of the most notable dresses in tennis fashion, including Gussy Moran’s dress and lace bloomers that shocked the Wimbledon crowds in 1949 and Billie Jean King’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ dress in 1973, which she wore as she defeated Bobby Riggs. His compulsion to push the limits of fashion, no matter how much the powers that be are offended, made him a couturier that will never be replicated. Tinling’s fashions, with their veil of femininity, allowed female athletes to compete unencumbered by cultural expectations. This would be Tinling’s greatest feat.
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Keywords: Ted Tinling; Virginia Slims; Wimbledon; athletic attire; biography; couture fashion; female athletes; gender

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Maryland

Publication date: October 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.

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