STYLE & BEAUTY
02/20/2018 05:45 am ET

Stunning Photos Show The Evolution Of Women's Figure Skating Costumes

Sparkles reign supreme today, but they weren't always the norm.
American skater Peggy Fleming in 1968.
- via Getty Images
American skater Peggy Fleming in 1968.

Women’s figure skating is, hands down, one of the most visually stunning events to watch at the Olympics. Not only do the athletes put on an impressive display of grace and skill, they also dazzle us with their glittering costumes. 

Glitter and crystals, however, weren’t always the norm in the world of figure skating. In fact, at the 1924 games in Chamonix, France, women wore full skirts with sweaters and hats that didn’t look much different from their everyday clothes (which makes sense, considering Olympic skating rinks used to be outdoors). In 1936, though, Norwegian skater Sonja Henie changed the game when she competed in a skirt with a comparatively short hemline. From then on, hemlines continued to go shorter. 

In terms of decoration, most skating outfits were quite plain during the World War II era, as fabric shortages led skaters to favor simple silhouettes with less fabric and little embellishment, according to Insider. Through the ’50s and ’60s, women’s costumes were still quite basic and generally featured high necklines with flared skirts. By the ’70s, lower necklines were making their way onto the ice and embellishments also started gaining popularity. 

Then the ’80s rolled around, and spandex, sparkles, chiffon, sequins and beads reigned supreme. One outfit, a feathered blue number worn by East Germany’s Katarina Witt at the 1988 Olympic games (pictured below), was deemed too scandalous by the International Skating Union. As a result, the ISU changed dress code rules and introduced “The Katarina Rule,” which stated that women’s hips, midriffs and buttocks had to be covered with a skirt, as noted by The Atlantic. That same year, American skater Debi Thomas made waves by wearing a full unitard for competition, which led to a ban on costumes without skirts.

In the 1990s, another trend that emerged was designer costumes. Skaters like Nancy Kerrigan and France’s Surya Bonaly skated in costumes designed by Vera Wang and Christian Lacroix, respectively. 

The no-skirt ban was lifted in 2003, per The Boston Globe, and full leotards became acceptable; most recently, Mae Berenice Meite of France competed in Pyeongchang wearing a bedazzled unitard, while Russia’s Irina Slutskaya wore a sparkly one-piece at the 2006 Olympics. 

These days, embellishments are still popular as ever and short skirts are still No. 1. Skaters also favor illusion mesh and backless designs that mirror dresses we see on runways and red carpets

Keep scrolling to see the stunning evolution of women’s figure skating costumes through the years.

  • Herma Planck-Szabo, Ethel Muckelt and Beatrix Loughran, 1924
    Planck-Szabo of Austria, Muckelt of Great Britain and Loughran of the United States at the 1924 winter Olympics in Chamonix,
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Planck-Szabo of Austria, Muckelt of Great Britain and Loughran of the United States at the 1924 winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, Jan. 30, 1924.
  • Sonja Henie, 1924
    The Norwegian skater on&nbsp;the ice at Chamonix during the Winter Olympics in 1924 when <a href="https://www.olympic.org/son
    Central Press via Getty Images
    The Norwegian skater on the ice at Chamonix during the Winter Olympics in 1924 when she was just 11.
  • Sonja Henie, 1936
    During her figure skating routine at the 1936 Winter Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.&nbsp;
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    During her figure skating routine at the 1936 Winter Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. 
  • Jeanette Altwegg, 1952
    Altwegg, from Great Britain, after winning a gold medal in the Women's Figure Skating Competition in the 1952 Winter Olympics
    Central Press via Getty Images
    Altwegg, from Great Britain, after winning a gold medal in the Women's Figure Skating Competition in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway.
  • Carol Heiss, 1956
    American skater Heiss at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
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    American skater Heiss at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
  • Tenley Albright, 1956
    Albright of the United States displaying her grace and technique during&nbsp;her free skating&nbsp;program at the&nbsp;1956 W
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    Albright of the United States displaying her grace and technique during her free skating program at the 1956 Winter Olympics.
  • Peggy Fleming, 1968
    Fleming, of the U.S., practicing&nbsp;on an outside rink in February 1968 in Grenoble, France, during the Winter Olympics. Sh
    - via Getty Images
    Fleming, of the U.S., practicing on an outside rink in February 1968 in Grenoble, France, during the Winter Olympics. She won the gold medal.
  • Janet Lynn, 1968
    Lynn, representing the U.S. at 1968 Winter&nbsp;Olympics in&nbsp;Grenoble, France.
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    Lynn, representing the U.S. at 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.
  • Janet Lynn, Beatrix Schuba and Karin Magnussen, 1972
    The three medal winners&nbsp;&mdash; Lynn of the U.S., Schuba of Austria, Magnussen of Canada&nbsp;&mdash; in ladies singles&
    George Silk via Getty Images
    The three medal winners — Lynn of the U.S., Schuba of Austria, Magnussen of Canada — in ladies singles figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, Feb. 7, 1972.
  • Dorothy Hamill, 1976
    The American skater&nbsp;during the Winter Olympics skating competition in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria. Hamill&nbsp;won the go
    Tony Duffy via Getty Images
    The American skater during the Winter Olympics skating competition in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria. Hamill won the gold medal for the U.S. in the ladies singles figure skating event.
  • Linda Fratianne, 1980
    The American skater performing during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    The American skater performing during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
  • Anett Pötzsch, 1980
    P&ouml;tzsch, of East Germany, performing at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
    ABC Photo Archives via Getty Images
    Pötzsch, of East Germany, performing at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
  • Dagmar Lurz, 1980
    The West German skater performing at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
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    The West German skater performing at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
  • Kira Ivanova, 1984
    Ivanova, of the Soviet Union, at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in&nbsp;Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
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    Ivanova, of the Soviet Union, at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
  • Rosalynn Sumners, 1984
    The American athlete competing in the Winter Olympics at the Zetra Ice Stadium in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, February 1984. Sumner
    Steve Powell via Getty Images
    The American athlete competing in the Winter Olympics at the Zetra Ice Stadium in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, February 1984. Sumners won the silver medal in the event.
  • Katarina Witt, 1984
    The skater from&nbsp;East Germany skating during the 1984 Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, on Feb. 18, 1984.
    David Madison via Getty Images
    The skater from East Germany skating during the 1984 Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, on Feb. 18, 1984.
  • Tiffany Chin, 1984
    Chin, of the U.S., performing&nbsp;at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
    Jean-Yves Ruszniewski via Getty Images
    Chin, of the U.S., performing at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
  • Sandra Dubravcic, 1984
    Dubravcic, representing Yugoslavia, skating&nbsp;her long program&nbsp;during the Winter Olympics on Feb. 18, 1984, in Saraje
    David Madison via Getty Images
    Dubravcic, representing Yugoslavia, skating her long program during the Winter Olympics on Feb. 18, 1984, in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
  • Katarina Witt, 1988
    Performing in&nbsp;the&nbsp;ladies singles&nbsp;figure skating event at&nbsp;the 1988 Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 1988, in Ca
    David Madison via Getty Images
    Performing in the ladies singles figure skating event at the 1988 Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 1988, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • Elizabeth Manley. 1988
    The Canadian athlete competing in a figure skating competition in the&nbsp;1988&nbsp;Winter Olympics.
    Focus On Sport via Getty Images
    The Canadian athlete competing in a figure skating competition in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
  • Debi Thomas, 1988
    The American athlete skating her short program at the 1988 Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 1988, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Tho
    David Madison via Getty Images
    The American athlete skating her short program at the 1988 Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 1988, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Thomas was the bronze medalist in the event.
  • Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992
    The American skater competing&nbsp;in the&nbsp;ladies&nbsp;singles figure skating event&nbsp;at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games
    David Madison via Getty Images
    The American skater competing in the ladies singles figure skating event at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games held in Albertville, France, on Feb. 21, 1992.
  • Midori Ito, 1992
    Ito, of Japan, performing at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France.
    PA Images Archive via Getty Images
    Ito, of Japan, performing at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France.
  • Surya Bonaly, 1992
    The French skater performing&nbsp;her free program during the Winter Olympics Feb. 21, 1992, in Albertville. Bonaly finished
    ERIC FEFERBERG via Getty Images
    The French skater performing her free program during the Winter Olympics Feb. 21, 1992, in Albertville. Bonaly finished in fifth place.
  • Nancy Kerrigan, 1994
    Kerrigan, of the U.S., performing at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, where she won the silver medal.
    Clive Brunskill via Getty Images
    Kerrigan, of the U.S., performing at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, where she won the silver medal.
  • Tonya Harding, 1994
    The American skater competing&nbsp;in the free skate portion of the&nbsp;ladies singles event at&nbsp;the 1994 Winter Olympic
    David Madison via Getty Images
    The American skater competing in the free skate portion of the ladies singles event at the 1994 Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 1994, at the Hamar Olympic Hall in Lillehammer, Norway.
  • Oksana Baiul, 1994
    The Ukrainian athlete competing&nbsp;in the free skate portion of the&nbsp;ladies singles event at the 1994 Winter Olympic Ga
    David Madison via Getty Images
    The Ukrainian athlete competing in the free skate portion of the ladies singles event at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 25, 1994, at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre in Lillehammer, Norway.
  • Chen Lu, 1994
    Lu, of China, in the free skate portion of the ladies singles figure skating competition&nbsp;at the 1994 Winter Olympics on
    David Madison via Getty Images
    Lu, of China, in the free skate portion of the ladies singles figure skating competition at the 1994 Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 1994, in Lillehammer, Norway.
  • Tara Lipinski, 1998
    The American athlete skating in the free skate&nbsp;during the ladies singles figure skating&nbsp;event of the 1998 Winter Ol
    David Madison via Getty Images
    The American athlete skating in the free skate during the ladies singles figure skating event of the 1998 Winter Olympics on Feb. 20, 1998, in Nagano, Japan.
  • Chen Lu, 1998
    Skating&nbsp;her free program in the ladies singles event of the figure skating competition in the 1998 Winter Olympics held
    David Madison via Getty Images
    Skating her free program in the ladies singles event of the figure skating competition in the 1998 Winter Olympics held on Feb. 20, 1998, in Nagano, Japan.
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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Men's Olympic Figure Skating Costumes Through The Years
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