Evolution of the Golden Girl Outfits

by Emma Martello, Lucia Bellanger, Julianne Willey, Alyssa DiCristo, Maddie Brown

20 years

Louisiana State University’s Golden Band from Tigerland has been a rich source of history and tradition at LSU. One of the most famous parts of The LSU Marching Band is The Golden Girls. The Golden Girls are  “LSU’s oldest and most established danceline” (Golden Girls).  The Golden Girls perform in various styles of dance at football games and special events on campus.

The Golden Girls were originally formed in 1959 as the LSU Ballet Corps Dance Line. It wasn’t until 1965 that they were given the name that we know them by today.  One of the most iconic features of the Golden Girls are their various outfits. The most notable of these uniforms are the white uniform, gold uniform, and their special events outfits. These looks have seen dramatic alterations over time. The evolution of the Golden Girl uniforms has been a reflection of the changing times as well as the result of the functional demands of the dancers.

In 1959, when the Golden Girls first began as the Ballet Corps, their outfits consisted of a gold lamé and sequins along with majorette boots and flesh-colored fishnet stockings finished off with the iconic cape that remains to this day. The leotard is a dancer staple and allows for a dancer to have flexibility and remain uninhibited while moving. Richard Brooks, who held the position of drum major at the time, designed this original costume. The gold leotard was covered by a skirt, by order of the Dean of women at LSU. This was due to an expectation of a certain level of modesty from women during this time period. Many students on campus believed this outfit to be too risqué, even with the addition of the skirt. In 1961, the girls donned majorette boots while the leotard and skirt shifted to gold lamé outfits with fewer sequin accents.

1959 golden girls

LSU Ballet Corps, 1959

From 1969-1985, the Golden Girls uniforms remained largely unchanged. They wore the same gold sequined leotard with a skirt over top along with short white gloves and flesh-toned fishnet stockings. The boots became sleeker and shorter, due to the fact that majorette boots were difficult to dance in, and did not allow for the full range of motion while dancing. The hairstyles mimicked the styles of the time, from the heavily upturned ends of the 1960s to the loose, waves of the 1970s. There was no uniformity to the Golden Girls hairstyle like there is today with the current half up, half down hairstyle.

In 1985, the uniform shifted into a gold leotard with gold sequin socks and white tennis shoes. These shoes were much easier to dance in and did not restrain the dancers at all. The leotard had gold, loose mesh sleeves that were cuffed with golden sequins, as well as a crisscross design that traveled up the body to the neck to separate into four thin straps that eventually met as a thick golden sequined choker. The loose mesh sleeves were a reflection on the time and the trend of oversized sleeves. The hairstyle was very much reflective of the 1980s with most girls sporting perms with shorter bangs.

1985 golden girls

 Golden Girls, 1985

In 1988, the mesh puffy sleeves were lost, but the sequined wrist cuffs and socks remained. The leotard design became more simplistic, with gold sequins in the shape of a diamond outlining the front of the leotard.

In 1991, Kim Kirley become the primary designer of the Golden Girls’ costumes, hand making the costumes and appliqués so that they would stretch and shift with the girls’ movements. This was a new functional change that improved the aesthetic of the outfits as well as the dancers’ flexibility. From 1991 to 1992 the uniforms were heavily 1980s inspired, with puffy sleeves and shoulder pads. The sleeves shifted slightly every year, from the 80s inspired puffy sleeves, to a net sleeve, to a crisscrossed sequined pattern before finally disappearing altogether in favor of sleeker gloves.

In 1996, the Golden Girls began wearing the first version of the iconic white leotards that they wear today. The leotards fluctuated between gold and white for several years until eventually remaining white after the gold fabric was known to frequently flake off the uniforms. In 2007, a sweetheart neckline was briefly tested, but shifted to a V-neck halter a year later. The staple uniform remains white in 2016 and mostly unchanged, although the V-neck halter has shifted back into a thin, sequined strap halter. They also now wear jazz heels that are specifically made for dancers. These allow for their legs to appear longer. The standard Golden Girl uniform is a very modern and traditional dance outfit going back to the fundamental leotard. Although to some the uniform now is considered the most scandalous it has ever been, it shows that there is a different expectation of modesty and what is acceptable.

1996 golden girls

Present day Golden Girl uniforms

The Golden Girls continue to wear the gold outfit in its original design as a tribute to their alumnae at certain games and events. Other than alumnae or special events, however, the girls will be seen in the white leotard. There have been several special event outfits. One example of this would be the “patriotic” outfit that the girls wear for notable games. They also have several practice outfits, including their performance practice outfit, which is reserved for golden girl practices that are open to the public. It consists of a purple sequined sports bra and black spandex pants.

golden uniform

Golden Girls gold outfit

Current Golden Girl, Shaina Grace, states that there are also rigorous grooming and accessory rules for the women. The hairstyles of the Golden Girls traditionally reflect the time period, whether that is the loose waves of the 70’s or the more cropped cut of the 60’s. As of 2017, however, there is one mandated hairstyle, which is the teased half up and half down. Grace explained that this is because it keeps the hair out of your face and adds height to the dancers on the field.

On a certain level, the Golden Girls’ outfits meet certain functional demands that are an obvious necessity for any dance team, although it is interesting what aesthetic or more trendy additions have been added through the years. Current members of the Golden Girls state that they cannot foresee any other changes to the iconic uniform, but as the history of the evolution of their outfits shows, we could expect to see a very different look in the future.

#GoldenGirls #LSU #GoldenBandFromTigerland #danceteam #dance #dancefashion

Works Cited

Crawford. LSU Golden Girl. 2009. Flickr, Baton Rouge. (Image 5)

“Golden Girls.” LSU Department of Bands | Official Website. Louisiana State University, 2016. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

“Golden Girls, 1985” Gumbo, 1969, 1974, 1981, 1985, 1988. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.

Grace, Shania. Personal Interview. 20 April 2017.

“LSU Ballet Corps, 1959,”  My New Orleans. Louisiana Life Magazine, Dec. 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

Miller, Robin. “Golden Years: LSU’s Celebrated Golden Girls to Mark 50th Anniversary at 2009 Tiger Band Reunion.” The Advocate [Baton Rouge] 25 Oct. 2009, Main ed., People sec.: 01D. Access World News [NewsBank]. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

Phillips, Holly Ann. “Related Links.” 2009 Highlights | Golden Girls Celebrate 50 Years of an LSU Tradition. Office of Communications & University Relations, Sept. 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

“Present Day Golden Girl Uniforms,” Gardner, Bryan. Meet the Golden Girls of LSU. 2012. Jackson Jambalaya, Baton Rouge.

“20 Years of Golden Girls Uniforms.” The Livingston Parish News. N.p., 27 Feb. 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.