Every cheerleader knows the importance of having the proper body basics - like body suits, briefs, and sports bras - for practice, games and cheerleading competitions, but do you know how they got started and what changes and trends led to today's options?

Briefs
When women began cheering, the moves cheerleaders performed did not require as much athletic ability because they focused more on yelling chants and leading the crowd than they did performing stunts. Kicks and jumps weren't even a common practice yet, and the skirts were full length topped with a sweater and blouse. Considering that fashion, it was acceptable for female cheerleaders to wear everyday undergarments during practices and performances.

In the 1960s, when skirts went from full-length to knee-length, briefs became part of cheerleading uniform for women. Kicks and jumps were getting higher, stunts came into play, and eventually tumbling became a common part of cheerleading. To keep up with the increased athleticism, skirts became even shorter and tops became tighter. Cheerleaders wore stretch nylon briefs over their underwear for modesty because doing high kicks and tumbling across the floor revealed underneath the skirts for a short moment. In order to avoid the briefs from looking like underwear (which would defeat the purpose), they were sold in colors that matched the uniform's skirt.

Nowadays, briefs come in a variety of colors, designs and cuts. The regular style is cut along the hip flexor area; the boy-cut style is cut along the top of the thigh and features a longer inseam. Boy-cut briefs are named for their resemblance to the shorter length of boy's briefs, and were introduced long after regular briefs debuted. The need for a boy's cut arose because cheer body basics needed to adapt to the changes in the cut and style of the uniforms. In order to maintain the clean look of shorter uniforms that are popular nowadays, cheerleaders needed to wear shorter briefs as well.

Bras
In 1972, the Title IX Educational Amendment was passed, stating that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal financial assistance".

This meant that women were allowed to play any sports that men were offered a chance to play. It was a huge turning point for women's athletics. However, wearing a normal bra for athletic practices and performances was uncomfortable and offered no support for the chest and back.

Thankfully, in the late 1970s, the sports bra was created by a woman who wanted to overcome this obstacle. She designed a sports bra that had the following features:

  • Thick inelastic straps- provide support & comfortable for shoulders

  • Racerback- to avoid the straps from falling during physical activity

  • Thick elastic band on the bottom- provide support and comfort


Bodysuits
Bodysuits became popular for 2 main reasons: presentation and modesty.

Bodysuits also became popular when uniforms became tighter. Since the bodysuit is one piece and held in place with snaps, wearing it kept the appearance of the uniform smooth and presentable.

Though the standards for cheerleading uniforms were changing, not everyone was completely on board. So, many girls opted to wear bodysuits under their uniforms to avoid showing their midriff area when they raised their arms. However, in the early 2000s, midriff baring tops were becoming more popular, especially with All-Star teams. The cropped bodysuit came about to provide the same benefits as the full bodysuit, but allowed teams with cropped top uniforms to wear them also. Some teams with full-length tops think the cropped bodysuits are easier to put on and more comfortable, so they prefer the cropped bodysuit.

Similar to briefs, bodysuits were also available in popular colors to match the uniform, and nowadays are available in animal prints and other patterns that add some flair to uniforms.

Besides looks, the continuing development of body basics allow for a wide variety to choose from for comfort, coverage and support.