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Figure skating costumes have changed for the better

Sophie Decker-Pahl has been figure skating for 15 years and has seen significant change in her skating costumes from when she was a little girl.

“When I first started skating, the costumes were all one color, one fabric that was usually always velvet and had a ton of sequins sewn on them,” Decker-Pahl, a freshman studying fashion retail merchandising, said. “But now I’ve noticed costumes have a lot more see-through materials and cutouts.”

Figure skating costumes have made a shift from the more conservative look to a more sophisticated one, Decker-Pahl said.

“Fabrics used to be so heavy and constricting,” she said “But now the costumes are more fitted and sexier, but in a classy way.”

Skirts aren’t shorter and costumes aren’t thinner just for appearance, Decker-Pahl said.

“Women in the sport are doing harder elements these days that only men used to be able do,” she said. “I think it’s easier to do those stunts when their outfits are more aerodynamic.” 

To Hannah Miller, there’s more to figure skating costumes than sequins and tiny skirts.

“A lot of spectators think that skaters are just trying to be showy and distracting while out on the ice,” Miller, a junior studying journalism, said. “But the sport has such an art behind it, and the costumes just help to enhance that.”

Miller, the secretary of the Ohio University Synchronized Skating team, has been a skater since she was 7.

In Miller’s 14 years of skating, she has seen a lot of change in costumes. The times of the sport have changed, and skaters acknowledge that through what they wear on the ice.

“Despite how much more expensive skating costumes have gotten, I think they’re moving in a more positive image overall,” she said.

Anne McBride, a senior studying communication sciences and disorders, is the head coach of the synchronized skating team and has seen skating costumes change to reflect current trends.

“I think over time, skating dresses have adapted to the current times,” McBride said in an email. “Just like in any sport, the apparel changes and adapts to what the current styles are.”

McBride has been synchronized skating throughout her entire childhood and said today’s costumes have a more mature look to them.

The maturity in turn has a big effect on the skaters’ performance.

“When you’re wearing the dresses, it’s like the final piece of the program,” McBride said in email. “The dresses give us more confidence in our skating for sure!”

Appearance still plays a key role in skating — it’s important that a skater feels good in what they are wearing on the ice.

“It just shows through your skating and your attitude when you’re in something that makes you feel good,” Decker-Pahl said. “The confidence helps you do well and kill it out on the ice.”


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