Choosing a cheerleader skirt is one of the most important elements of choosing your squad's uniform. The skirt can really define your team's look and make an important impression with the crowd.
Evolution of the Cheerleading Skirt
The cheerleading skirt has changed substantially over the years to meet the needs of the rising competitiveness of cheerleading as a sport. Cheerleading has gone from simply "yelling" to a major sport covered by ESPN in national competitions. As the sport of cheerleading demanded more athleticism from its participants, so the fashions have changed to allow cheerleaders to cheer, dance, jump and tumble more freely.
Early Cheerleading Skirts
The very first cheerleading skirts were ankle length wool skirts, often a darker color than the sweaters. Some teams actually cheered in plaid skirts to match their school's uniforms. Having matching uniforms made the squad look better, but the "yellers" were far from the athletic sport of cheerleading that we see today.
The Cheerleader of the 1960s
The primary job of cheerleaders in the 1960s was to get the audience to cheer more. They knew they had done well if half of the audience went home from a game hoarse. There were still no major competitions for cheerleading and essentially, cheerleading wasn't quite yet a sport, although it was more organized.
Consequently, cheerleader skirts of the 60s did not reflect a need to allow for greater movement but rather simply reflected the changing styles. Cheerleaders at this point wore knee length pleated skirts. The skirts were generally made of cotton, and were substantially more comfortable than their wool predecessors.
The Current Style
In the past, schools had very similar uniforms and the differences were between the lettered insignia sewn onto the sweater or shell, or the alternating colors. However, once formal cheerleading competitions were introduced in 1978, schools began to try to stand out. Not only that, but the introduction of formal competitions officially launched cheerleading into competitive sport status and uniforms changed to reflect this newly embraced athleticism.Today, skirts are generally made out of a polyester blend and generally contain some spandex. They allow for flexibility and a large range of motion. While there are still squads that prefer pleated skirts, you will generally see straight a-line style skirts on most squads. The length of a skirt is generally 12 to 14 inches, although some coaches advocate shorter skirts for safety reasons.
Choosing Cheerleader Skirt Uniforms
There are several factors to consider when choosing skirts for your squad including:
- The rules and regulations of your cheerleading association
- The body type of all of your girls
- Your audience (pep rallies vs. competition vs. major high school games)
- Your budget
However, when you sit down and consider all of these factors, choosing a cheerleader skirt can be relatively easy. Generally, you will choose the skirt and shell of your uniform together. However, if your squad is short on funds, choosing a cheerleader skirt and adding simple polo shirts is also an option.
Types of Skirts
In general, there are four different types of cheerleader skirts that you can get:
- The A-line skirt is straight with no pleats. Generally, it is trimmed with stripes in the school's colors.
- The three-pleated skirt has three pleats on the left side of the skirt. The pleats may or may not be two -toned to match the colors of the school.
- The box-pleated skirt is a traditional pleated skirt that generally is two-toned and matches the schools colors.
- Skirts that are worn for competition can take a variety of forms and be just about as creative and imaginative as the team wants to be. Many companies fulfill custom orders. A customized uniform will generally cost around $70 per squad member.
The A-Line Skirt
The A-line skirt is preferable if your team does a lot of tumbling and stunts. There is not a lot of extra fabric to get in the way. These also tend to be the shortest skirts available, which is another plus for tumbling. Most competition uniforms are designed with an a-line skirt.
The Three-Pleated Skirt
With a little extra fabric than the A-line skirt, the three-pleated skirt is still a good bet for teams that do some tumbling and stunts, but still want the traditional cheerleader look. Three-pleated skirts also work well for dancing teams since the skirt still allows for plenty of movement.
The Box-Pleated Skirt
The box-pleated skirt is more popular with younger squads. Since there is more fabric, it is not the ideal skirt for a squad that does a lot of stunts. On the other hand, the box-pleated skirt tends to be a little longer, thus making it a good option for younger squads.
Competition uniforms take on a whole life unto themselves. Competition uniforms almost always have A-line style skirts to allow for maximum movement. However, while traditional uniforms tend to be adorned with stripes, the school letters or a cute mascot, competition uniforms have a lot more variety. Uniforms for competitions are often adorned with asymmetrical designs and don't necessarily bear the letters of the representative school. You may also find that they come in metallic or glittery fabrics. It is also common to use white as a competition color since it doesn't get worn very much.
Tips on Caring for Your Cheerleader Skirt
Generally speaking, your cheerleader skirt should be machine washable. However, you should always double check any tags or instructions that come with your uniform.
- Pre-treat any stains with a spot remover like Shout, OxiClean or Spray and Wash.
- Wash your skirt in cool/warm water. Never wash it in hot water.
- Never put your skirt into the dryer. Always dry your skirt on the line to make sure that it retains it shape, and doesn't shrink.