7 Style Moments That Changed Sports History Forever

Dedicated to the art of movement, this month is all about the journey to body awareness, and what it really means to devote energy to wellness, exercise, and self-love in 2019.


In sports, fashion and beauty can truly mark a moment in history. Whether it’s a uniform hiccup or a purposeful stray from the rules, what athletes wear tell a part of the story of the moment in a way that words just can’t.


Below, we’re breaking down seven of the most iconic sports style moments in history. Yes, there are actually wins to celebrate, but these fashion and beauty choices just add to what they meant.

Brandi Chastain’s Nike Bra

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The 1999 Women’s World Cup was the USA team’s moment to prove themselves in the sportand that they did. When player Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty kick, she ran off from the goal and immediately ripped her shirt off revealing a black Nike bra. The moment was immediately seen around the world and was looked at as “unbecoming” by many critics. Chastain, however, used her newfound platform as a way to elevate women’s sports, especially soccer.


Black Gloves During the 1968 Olympics Black Power Protest

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At the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, two black Olympic athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, won gold and bronze, respectively, at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. During their ceremony, the two men, each wearing black gloves, raised their fists high in the symbol of Black power. 


The two men had been part of an organization fighting for the better treatment of Black athletes and Black Americans. In an interview with Smithsonian magazine, they explained the gesture. “It was a cry for freedom and for human rights,” Smith said. “We had to be seen because we couldn’t be heard.”

Serena Williams’ Banned Catsuit At the French Open

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While many of her fashion moments have gone viral, Serena Williams’ catsuit during the 2018 French Open might take the top spot. The tennis player stepped out on the court wearing a look she said helped her with blood clots post-pregnancy. Despite the medical necessity, the French Open committee soon banned the outfit, saying Williams “must respect the game and the place.” Though Williams never spoke out about it, the outcry was swift with many saying that the ban was racist and sexist. 


In the matches since, Williams has opted for dresses and tutus that fit the standards of tennis, but the backlash opened eyes to how dress codes often target women, especially Black women.


Megan Rapinoe’s Pink Hair at the 2019 Women’s World Cup

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During the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the USA team once again made history scoring the most ever goals in a game against Thailand. This moment was punctuated, in a way, by team captain Megan Rapinoe’s bright pink hair. The 33-year-old has been the symbol of a new era in women’s sports that says women can have the same level of bolstered spirit both on and off the field as the men.

Allen Iverson’s Compression Sleeve

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In 2001, NBA star Allen Iverson was one of the most famous athletes in the world. So, when he stepped on the court in January wearing a tight sleeve on one arm, naturally everyone was curious. Was he making a fashion statement? Was something wrong? Turns out, it was a treatment for his bursitis, an issue with his joints.


Despite the technology of the compression sleeve, the look quickly turned into an accessory—and became an iconic wardrobe staple for many basketball fans. 


Ibithaj Muhammad’s Olympic Hijab


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In 2016, Ibithaj Muhammad became the first Muslim-American and first hijabi woman to win an Olympic medal. The sabre fencer won her historic bronze prize during the United States election year, which saw an uptick in racist rhetoric toward Muslims. Beyond proudly wearing her hijab to the award ceremony, Muhammad bravely spoke out about the treatment of Muslims in the US.


Florence Griffith Joyner’s Nails 

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In 1988, Florence Griffith Joyner (a.k.a. Flo Jo) made history by winning four Olympic gold medals. At the time, this earned her the title of “Fastest Woman in the World.” What made Flo-Jo special and important outside of her undeniable talent was her stylemore specifically, her long nails. While they were scoffed at by many, for others they were a symbol of femininity and Blackness being brought to the world stage.

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