A classic tailored polo will never go out of style (case in point: Audrey Hepburn). But if you’re suddenly spotting sporty polos, skorts, pleated dresses and loafers everywhere, no, you’re not stuck in some country club vortex. The casual-yet-preppy aesthetic dubbed “golfcore” is having a major moment. As the country gears up for one of the biggest golf events of the year, the U.S. Open, which runs from June 16-19, here’s everything you need to know about the golfcore aesthetic.
What Is Golfcore?
Think of golfcore as a dressier version of athleisure: tailored pants and shorts, collared tops, cardigans, swingy-skirted dresses, well-cut popover jackets and tasseled slip-ons. With pieces this polished and comfortable—designed for anyone who’s on the go—you can dress once to seamlessly transition from errands to the office to the course to cocktails, if you please. The point is these styles are elegant yet casual and made to fit an active lifestyle. Whether you actually plan to swing in them is up to you.
“Golf clubs tend to have dress codes, so it’s really about finding materials, cuts and styles that fit that code while blending in with other current trends around American sportswear,” says Noah Zagor, senior menswear editor at trend forecasting firm WGSN.
Though golfcore is a buzzword only lately, its roots trace back to the very start of the athleisure movement with brands like Lululemon. It’s an updated, upgraded take on the look that feels elevated enough to don all day.
“For many style enthusiasts, wearing black leggings and tank tops [doesn’t] feel chic enough to call an ‘outfit,’ unless you’re heading to the gym,” says Caroline Bramlett, a Palm Beach-based fashion expert and blogger. “The new golfcore brands have taken the same athletic fabrics and created beautiful tailored, collared and printed designs that are totally something [you can] confidently wear out and about.”
Why Is the Golfcore Aesthetic Trending Right Now?
“During the pandemic, we got so casual,” says Katherine Way, founder of her eponymous women’s apparel brand. “Golf apparel is so accepted into the workforce now because it’s easy.” Anyone from 25 can 85 years old can easily pull off this look, she adds. And because many pieces, from tops to dresses, feature a traditional V-neck, they’re nearly universally flattering. The Katherine Way clothing line, which counts golf dresses and its popular “no-roll” waistband skorts among its best sellers, has had a record-breaking year. “Golf started selling extremely well during the pandemic, and it’s carried on,” Way says.
The rise of golfcore may have something to do with the steady growth of the game itself, which—as one of few sports that requires little interaction and is entirely outdoors—boomed during the pandemic and continues to grow. A record 3.2 million Americans played golf on a course for the first time in 2021, according to the National Golf Foundation, and more than a third of beginner players are women.
“Golfcore is a reimagining of golf clothing that earnestly appreciates the sport of golf while simultaneously subverting many of the staid notions around who can play golf and what they should wear while playing,” says Zagor.
How to Pull Off the Golfcore Aesthetic
For women, dresses are a key piece of the golfcore trend, notably with one hallmark feature: pockets. On the course, pockets are essential for tucking away tees, ball markers, divot repair tools, and golf balls. Off the course, they’re equally practical for stashing your phone, lipstick, mints, you name it, says Way.
If skirts are more your style, you’re in luck. “The easiest way to nail the golfcore look trend is to pair a pleated white skirt with a collared polo shirt, layer a sweater on top or throw one over your shoulders, and finish the look off with a pair of white sneakers,” says Bramlett. “This look has always been a classic in areas like Palm Beach, and now you [see people] all over the U.S. sporting this casual and chic style.”
Don’t forget about accessories. At a recent fashion show in Savannah, Georgia, Way says models adorned their golfcore looks with heavy gold bracelets and necklaces. And you can’t go wrong with the OG country club accessory: a fine strand of pearls.
An added benefit of rocking golfcore apparel? Many brands make pieces that are moisture-wicking and sun-protecting (with UPF 50+), making them a cool and comfortable option for summer months.
Take note of our 11 favorite brands, from apparel to footwear to accessories, with perfect pieces to help you ace the golfcore look.
This contemporary golf apparel brand known for its colorful men’s polos launched its first women’s apparel collection this spring. Fitted frocks like the Lacey Sleeveless Dress are easy to swing in, yet are stylish enough for going out on the town.
Byrdie Golf Social Wear
The Charlotte-based brand describes its apparel as “social wear,” and we have to admit, the green-checked Kitty Trousers are much too chic to keep to the greens. Pair these wide-leg, vintage-inspired cigarette trousers with the Cynthia button down for drinks on the patio post-round. The brand also carries a line of golf clothes made from Liberty London fabrics.
No break-in period here: You’ll be strolling the fairways in constant comfort in this London line’s spikeless Grace loafers, which can be worn just as easily as casual footwear. The changeable tassels are a cute touch that enables matching your kicks to your outfit—a quintessential golfcore move.
Started by Cheryl Singer in 1974 after a denim tennis skirt she handmade was the envy of all her friends, Tail is still right on trend. The brand’s bold golf dresses are best sellers, and it’s also launched a new line for active women (including on golfers) with pieces like this ruffled-collar Condoleeza pullover.
Also available through Dick’s Sporting Goods, this activewear’s golf line is filled with pieces like V-neck sweater polos that can be easily styled with a pleated golf skirt or a pair of jeans. “We wanted our female athlete to be able to walk right off the course without looking like it,” says Calia designer Mary Parker.
The women’s golf sportswear line includes easy-to-wear club dresses and sleek trousers that are simultaneously moisture-wicking, ultra-flattering and outfitted with functional pockets, while the striped pop-over goes with any outfit for chilly days.
Designed by women, for women, these tailored collections were born out of founder Katie Byrnes’s desire to inspire more women to get into golf. Shop matching, moisture-wicking polo-skort sets in fun prints like yellow plaid or green gingham to get inspired to tee it up.
A golf watch has never been so chic. Tag Heuer’s Calibre E4- Golf Edition will help you track each shot via smartphone app, keep your score digitally, and even maps out hazards and distances so you know where to place your next shot. Bonus: It has a built-in ballmarker, so you’ll never misplace yours again.
Classic golf polos and dresses updated with feminine details like ruffled collars and gold rose buttons are too pretty to keep tucked away in a closet. Available in XXS to 2X and in an ever-growing range of patterns and colors, they’re meant to help women of all sizes feel comfortable and confident on the course.
This jewelry brand’s top-selling silver, 14k gold and 18k rose gold stroke counter bracelets are meant to help you keep track of your score on each hole, but many wearers use them to count non-golf-related wellness goals, too, such as daily glasses of water or fruit/vegetables servings.
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