My pal Sally Mulroy, a lifelong tennis player, is planning a pickleball tournament for her 50th high school reunion this summer. I asked her if there’s any difference in how to dress for pickleball vs. tennis. Tennis, she said, tends to be more formal. “It really depends on where you play. Private tennis clubs typically have more rules about attire than public courts. Some private tennis clubs still adhere to an all-white apparel rule. Pickleball is played on public courts, and you can wear whatever you want.” Another friend, Toby Tucker Peters, who plays both sports, put it this way: “Pickleball is like tennis’s little sister with curly red pigtails and a scraped knee.” Say no more. I’m in.
Growing numbers of older adults participate in outdoor active sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking and hiking — in addition to golf, tennis and pickleball — and sportswear manufacturers have taken notice, offering styles with a bit more structure and coverage in a wider range of sizes and lengths that will suit every body. Try these picks on for size:
Free-wheeling pickleball packs a wallop
It’s all about color, comfort and fun. Prints and patterns are encouraged.
Traditional tennis takes style seriously
Tennis “whites” are a timeless, elegant option. If your club or courts permit a touch of color, you can’t go wrong with blue, burgundy or green accents — or a sporty, awning-striped backpack featuring ample side pockets for balls and a water bottle.
Stand up to paddleboard — or sit down to kayak
Both sports provide great workouts for people over 50 — strengthening your core and improving your balance. Opt for quick-dry fabrics with SPF, a broad-brimmed hat and waterproof, nonslip (and cute!) espadrilles.
Take a hike
During the pandemic, so many of us came to appreciate the solace of nature and the benefits of a brisk walk or moderate hike. Sturdy footwear with a deep tread is essential, as is a backpack with a water bottle and snacks. If it gets buggy, grab an insect-repelling jacket.
Have a ball golfing
Yes, there are rules and regulations: Collared shirts, capris, not-too-short skirts or Bermudas, shoes that don’t tear up the green. But within those parameters, there’s plenty of room for personal style. Prepsters, prepare to pop your collars!
Group and team sports are a fantastic way to make new friends in retirement — so dress your best, get outside and show ’em that you still got it!