From Court to Catwalk: Unlock Your Baller Aesthetic

Writer Kirsten Chen teaches you how to unlock your inner baller


Gameday Grails community, we present our latest initiative: Sportswear Is Fashion. Consider this a visual essay on the convergence of athleticism and aesthetics. 

Consider this your front-row ticket to where the game meets the runway.

ICYMI: Kirsten Chen, also known to the 'Gram as @hotgothwriter shared with us her history with vintage sportswear he's not just setting trends—she's creating a playbook on how to wear sportswear as high fashion.

Today, she shares an essay on the subject of sportswear x fashion. We hope you enjoy.


I laugh whenever I’m at key basketball events– All-Star Weekend, outdoor summer tournaments, game watching parties– because I’m the only one who’s a nicotine fiend. If everyone else around me is a former D1 athlete, then I gotta represent for the fashion industry party girls. 

Channeling your inner student-athlete can teach you about balancing time, pursuing more than a singular goal and finding those magical, cross-cultural intersections. I have one foot in the streetwear, fashion space and the other in sports; the best moments are when I get to bring designers to basketball games, the worst moments are when the end of season coincides with New York Fashion Week. 

Bringing sports into my style was never about actually wearing Jordan’s or those trendy, patterned basketball shorts, it’s about embodying that baller energy. Whenever I’m wearing something out of my comfort zone, I channel Dennis Rodman’s brazen confidence and natural sexiness. These days, I don’t aspire to be the most visionary, edgy fashion influencer, I want to be perceived like your favorite athlete– sharp and mostly scandal-free, with an undeniable shine. 

Wordplay around basketball reveals greater parallels between fashion and sports: “season,” the schedule of basketball games or the timestamp of a collection; “practice,” the long, sweaty hours spent training or the intentional approach to one’s craft; “legacy,” “hustle,” “star,” and “fan.” Whether subconscious or not, my favorite creative figures have all taken notes from the “baller” mindset of athletes– life’s a game, we play with ideas and at the end of the day, we just want to ball.  

I’ve attended both Paris Fashion Week and WNBA All-Star Weekend, so I know that sitting courtside at a basketball game is no different from sitting front row at a runway show. Everyone in attendance is anxious, excited for the action that’s about to unfold. The same industry politics apply to the stadium and the seating chart: you’re happy to be there, but you can look around and notice the hierarchy of who’s seated where, who’s working with which brand, and you can even check BFA or Getty Images to see if you’re visible in post-event coverage.

As the aspiring Anna Wintour-esque figure of women's basketball, I'll end with a selection of my favorite basketball-inspired designer pieces. There's dresses made from jersey material by Junya Watanabe; jerseys from Christian Louboutin, Mugler, Dior and Chanel; cheeky sports bimbo tops by Dolce & Gabbana; and a handful of pieces from Jean Paul Gaultier. 

Designer or not, fashion is only fun when you feel like you're balling. Catch me courtside in kitten heels and tell me about what you're wearing. Go hard in the paint and build your craziest outfit. Players, party girls, popping scene kids, we’re all just being as bad as we wanna be. 


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