Cheerleading Shorts History
Cheer shorts are specially designed, comfortable-fitting athletic shorts most often worn by cheerleaders with a t-shirt during cheer practices and at cheer camps. Cheer shorts may also be low rise, boy-cut bottoms worn as a uniform bottom or under the skirt. Cheer shorts or bottoms worn under the skirt are called cheer briefs.
The cheer uniform dates to the early 1920s when cheer first took to large crowds of spectators at football games. Commonly a cardigan with the school letter worn over a blouse or turtle-necked sweater, long pleated wool skirt (or in the case of men, long pleated baggie wool pants), and a comfortable pair of saddle shoes or canvas sneakers comprised the high school or college cheerleader uniform. The cheer uniform reflected team spirit, and the cheerleader proudly represented the school by displaying the first letter or logo of their school name or mascot on top of a megaphone shape. Hot, bulky wool clothes and cotton blends made up the fabric of cheer uniforms, male and female alike. Fabric and cheer accessories have changed dramatically to meet the changing times. Because the length of skirts have shortened so dramatically since the beginnings of cheerleading, in part due to safety guidelines, the cheer brief became a necessary part of the cheer uniform.
Brief History of the Cheer Brief
Unless you were a cheerleader once, you may not know that the skirted uniform includes a pair of specially designed cheer briefs. Cheerleaders and coaches most often call these cheer briefs "spankies", but if you called them lollies or bloomers you'd be talking about the same thing.
Cheer briefs became part of the uniform after cheer skirts shrank from long and pleated, to knee-length in the 1960s. To suit the changing times and styles of cheerleading, the uniform changed, and the skirt got shorter. The average length today is about 12 to 14 inches, and shrinking. As cheerleading became more about dance and entertainment, the colored spandex/polyester brief was added to the uniform for modesty. Cheer briefs were designed to match the uniform so they didn't look too much like underwear.
Something else you may not know is that cheer briefs are not actually underwear. They're designed to be worn over underwear to provide extra coverage under the skirt for modesty. There are basically four kinds of cheer briefs: Body suits, shorties, briefs or bloomers, and boy-cut.
Like the leotard, the cheer body suit covers the bottom to the shoulder, and might be a good choice for teams preferring a seamless look without midriff exposure.
These low-rise briefs are worn under short skirts and are commonly worn at the competitive level.
Like spandex bicycle shorts only a lot shorter, these snug-fitting spandex briefs work well with a skirt that exceeds the length of the short. For shorter skirts, underwear-style briefs may be a better option.
Bloomers are basically loosely-fitting briefs. Classic briefs are designed like underwear except they cover more of the bottom.
Which Brief is Best?
When designing or updating your cheer uniform, present the options to your team and take a vote.
A few tips to consider:
- The best overall brief design for your uniform depends on the skirt length and design.
- Know your school or organization rules pertaining to briefs and skirt length, as well as brief decoration. Some rules may not allow for printing on the backs of briefs while some may.
- The brief should be compatible with the skirt rise. You wouldn't want a brief that extends above the skirt, or below the hemline.
- Consideration of the weather. If your team trains and performs in chillier climates, your team may prefer a body suit.