ICE STYLE…..Figure Skating Costume Question: White Vs. Beige Skates?
The Great (Figure Skating) Debate: White, Beige or Skin Tone Tights Over The Boots?
La Perfect Michelle: Michelle Kwan skating in…White Skates
Just in time for the final Grand Prix of Figure Skating Competition, which is occurring as I type in Beijing China, I began an email discussion with one of my Figure Skating “gals”, the beautiful Courtney Prince, who skated professionally for a while but now owns the Jewelry Design company, Doloris Petunia. She emailed me asking “White Skates or Beige Skates?” She wanted my Fashion Designer (and Figure Skating fan) opinion. Her argument was that wearing beige skates made the skater look, well, a bit less professional.So naturally, I said “I need to post a BLOG about this” and see what other people think. And I also decided to take it another step further and add: “Well, what about beige tights over the skating boots?”. Why would Figure Skaters decide one versus the other.
Is wearing beige skates more of a statement of “I’m not traditional”? And finally, covering the entire leg–and boot–in skin-tone tights, would that be more to elongate the figure, especially for some skaters who well, might not be so height-inclined? White Skates seem to be the de-rigueur and more traditional choice for Ladies Figure Skaters throughout the years.
This changed in the late 80’s when more and more professional figure skaters began to buck the “White Skate” rule and go for the beige ones. And then toward the late 90’s, and early 2000’s, we began to see the all-over skin-tone/beige tights over the skates look as well.
I went back in time and looked at iconic–and very fabulous Ladies Figure Skaters and what they wore:White Skating Boot Queens:
In 1968 , Peggy Fleming won the Olympic Gold, wearing White Skates. She looked elegant and very “Mad Men” Figure Skater!!
Dorothy Hamill became the 1976 Olympic Champion…in White Skates. I see a pattern here: If you go to the Olympics, and want to win the Gold, ,maybe White Skates is your secret “boot” ticket. On Hamill, they were the perfect accessory since her costume had white-ish sequin trim on the neckline and sleeve of her red costume. Looking at these two icons of Figure Skating and thinking about costumes in 2010/2011, wearing White Boots might seem a bit “Retro”, n’est pas?
In the 1992 Albertville Olympics, France’s Surya Bonaly, caused a major ESCANDALO, when she refused to wear tights(!). My Figure Skating “Research Assistant” tells me that Danskin only makes tights in “never seen the sun” ballerina cream or “toast”(tan-a-rama!), so I can see why Bonaly just never wore tights when she competed (she just couldn’t find a pair to match her skin tone). She still opted for the traditional White Skates–to go with her non-traditional glitzy over-the-top costumes.
Two years later, at the 1994 Winter Olympics, there was Miss Tonya Harding and her infamous broken boot lace incident. Yep, she wore White Skates and they coordinated well with her costume. They were the “Stars” of this Olympic boot lace incident, as well as the fact that her skates had GOLD blades. This was considered a bit on the tacky side and trust me kiddies, it was a topic of discussion amongst many a figure skating competition-watching party!
In the same year, Olympic Gold-medal Winner Oksana Baiul, who represented the Ukraine defeated USA’s Nancy Kerrigan in (Oh No She Didn’t!): Beige Skating Boots (I know, shut the front door!). I remember then thinking “Boy them beige skates are odd!”. If I am not mistaken, I think she was the only figure skater to compete in the Olympics wearing BEIGE SKATES! (I’m sure I could be wrong and my dear readers will be sure to tell me so!)
In the early 2000’s, we began to see the beige-tights-over-skates trend more. Exhibit A: Sarah Hughes, 2002 Olympic Gold Medalist. Hughes wore the beige tights over the skates look with her sequined lilac costume.
Exhibit B: In 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino (of which I actually went to!), Sasha Cohen skated in skin-tone tights over her boots, as well. Sasha, of course is known for her LONG lines and UNBELIEVABLE leg extensions. So in her case, it does make sense to cover the entire leg in skin-tone, in order to exaggerate even more the length of her lines. So what is the trend now, in 2010/2011?
What’s The Trend Now: The 2010 Grand Prix Ladies
Italy’s Carolina Kostner–and Roberto Cavalli-costumed muse–wore White Ice Skates in her winning Grand Prix performance. I loved the costume and had no problem with them. Kostner is a tall skater (compared to the others) and therefore doesn’t need an elongation to her already lengthy legs. They also go just right with her asymmetrical costume. I just have a problem with her too-dark tights! (Are those “toast” by Danskin???)
Japan’s Akiko Suzuki, on the other hand, wears the beige-tights-over-ice-skates, for her Grand Prix series look. Akiko is only 5 feet 2 inches and so it is understandable that she doesn’t want to add anything to break the length of her leg-lines. For some reason, though, it looks very “bulky” down by the ankle. It would almost be better with just the white boots…
The stunning Barbie Doll-like Kiira Korpi from Finland, opts for the White Skates. Korpi looks like a figure skater from the 1960’s, and from head to toe, she exudes a Retro vibe. So it makes perfect sense for her to go for the White Skates as opposed to the all-beige-leg look.
And finally, there’s Rachael Flatt, from the USA, who chooses beige tights over the skates, as opposed to the White Skates. So, it seems that the great debate over “Which one is better?” or “Which is more Professional Looking?” will continue. I think, it all depends on the skater, the costume, and also the height of the skater. Shorter competitors should probably opt for the beige tight/skate look, while if you want to be more on the “Peggy Fleming/Dorothy Hamill” end–and be more “traditional”–then go for the White Skates.
Although for me there is one deal breaker and that is the Olympics. I am siding with a White Skate only policy. To me it is almost like not wearing a White Tennis Outfit to Wimbledon! For the Gran-daddy of all Sports and for photos that will appear for an eternity, classic white is always the answer! What do you think?
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