Fashion & Football: Where The Two Worlds Cross
At its core, football has always been a sport that emphasises freedom of expression. It’s a place where improvisation is applauded and the game’s most talented players are celebrated as artists. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that some of the biggest names in football have boasted such acquired tastes when it comes to fashion.
From some of the boldest choices of clashing colours to wearing your jersey on the red carpet. Let’s have a look at three of football’s leading stars and how they’ve managed to kick caution into touch with their brave and outlandish attire:
1. The Smart Casual Football Shirt (David Beckham, 2003)
Known the world over as a style icon, David Beckham chose to celebrate his 2003 transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid by adorning the club’s shirt as part of a pastel blue suit–with a black belt and shoes as accents.
Fashion trends in the early 2000s were pretty fond of pastel colours, but Beckham’s decision to swap a traditional shirt for a Real Madrid jersey created a bold look that should never have worked. Yet, somehow it does.
Beckham’s natural flair for style took the notion of smart-casual to another level, and inspired a generation of individuals to attempt to wear football shirts in a wide variety of unconventional settings.
Impressively, we’ve even recently seen US superstar Kim Kardashian wearing a vintage 1997-98 season AS Roma football shirt when spotted by paparazzi in early 2023.
While football has never quite permeated the world of fashion in quite the same way as sports like basketball over the years, the rise of stars following in Beckham’s footsteps in adopting football shirts for casual wear seem to be growing, with other US celebrities like Drake and Snoop Dogg regularly inspiring debate over the wide variety of teams they’ve represented around the world.
In 2018, we even saw football shirts make it onto the red carpet at the BAFTA awards, as This Country star and creator, Daisy May Cooper donned a hybrid Swindon Town shirt dress as she and her show picked up two awards.
Although sightings of Beckam’s iconic football shirt/suit combination have been few and far between following the style icon’s debut of the look in 2003, football has clearly infiltrated fashion in a brave new way in the 21st Century.
2. The Rise of Footballer High Fashion (Dominic Calvert Lewin & Hector Bellerin)
The world of football hasn’t always had a healthy relationship with fashion. As Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and a host of Manchester United stars showed in 2005, being world class sports stars doesn’t necessarily always come with a natural flair for style.
However, we’re now seeing more and more top footballers embracing the world of high fashion. Hector Bellerin may be best known as a quick and elegant full-back who spent much of his career at Arsenal, but in the fashion world, Bellerin is likely to be associated with walking the Louis Vuitton catwalk at Paris Fashion Week in 2019.
Bellerin is just one of a range of footballers who have embraced high fashion. Another notable player in the style stakes is Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has been a cover star for GQ’s Hype magazine and frequently appears in photo shoots wearing unmissable attire.
As well as donning more 70s inspired attire, Calvert-Lewin has become known for adopting a more androgynous style in fashion shoots–and has been known to use skirts and handbags to create a striking appearance that’s frequently challenged the perceptions of how masculinity is portrayed in football.
3. Big Occasion Wear (Liverpool & Megan Rapinoe)
The big occasions in football are the perfect time to see bold fashion choices shine through for players and their teams–and there have certainly been some brave styles on show.
One of the most unforgettable big-occasion looks in British football history came in the build up to the 1996 FA Cup final, when Liverpool opted to deck their players out in matching cream suits from Armani, with a raspberry ripple patterned tie to match.
The look led to Liverpool’s infamous ‘Spice Boys’ label, and the style has gone down in folklore as one of the sport’s more eye-opening fashion choices.
Did the Spice Boys suit bring the team good luck in their FA Cup final at least? No, not really. Manchester United defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the match itself.
We can also see bold fashion choices when scores do go the right way for players, too. When the US women’s national soccer team steamrollered the competition in the 2019 World Cup, we got to see USWNT star Megan Rapinoe showcase her love for colourful sunglasses.
Rapinoe’s choice in shades has become as iconic as her pink hairstyle, and her lenses often complement her locks well. Although her favourite brands to wear have included eyewear from Burberry and Vogue, Rapinoe’s choice of pink tinted lenses during her victory parade in a style reflected by some of Kate Spade’s high quality pink tints and colour combination styles have cast a strong and defiant look.
While football and fashion don’t always work together, the beautiful game can conjure some unmissable styles that can get fans talking about player wardrobes almost as much as the action on the pitch.
Although we’re a long way from the age of the Spice Boys and David Beckham’s football shirt/suit combination, there are still plenty of eyebrow raising looks that are emerging from the sport–and it’s nothing short of exciting to see what daring new look is next on the football agenda.