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10 Rules To Wearing Jerseys

rules to wearing jerseysYou have a rockin’ collection of jerseys stashed in your closet. It’s game day and you’re ready to rep your team. For story’s sake, let’s say you’re a die-hard San Diego Chargers fan. You pull out that throwback #55 Junior Seau (may he rest in peace) jersey, a pair of jeans, sneakers, and then you tuck your jersey into your jeans.

STOP!

You just took what could have been an awesome ensemble, and you ruined the whole thing. Sports fans often think, “As long as I’ve got a cool jersey on, I’m good to go.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Just like in other areas of life, style points do matter (I hope Will Muschamp sees that last sentence). If you want to look good while watching your favorite team, take a few pointers from me.

Here are 10 rules to wearing jerseys to help you avoid looking like a fool when rocking a jersey. If you dig this article, we did it in podcast form as well where we dish more about these rules to wearing jerseys.

1. Don’t wear a personalized jersey

custom phillies jersey

I get it. You’ve always wanted to play for your favorite team. Ever since you were five years old, you envisioned that the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to start you at first base. Well, they have this guy named Adrian holding down that spot, and his last name isn’t Smith, O’Leary, Simmons, or whatever your last name is.

If a girl has a personalized jersey, and she’s really hot, she’ll usually get a free pass on this one. Guys? Never. I’ll admit, I have a Miami Dolphins jersey with the #27 and Mackman on it. It was a gift from my father, and do you know when I wear it? Almost never, but if I happen to watch a game at my dad’s house when nobody else is around, I might bust it out. If you’re going to spend the money to have a jersey actually lettered and numbered for you, just pick the star player or a legend. You want something with staying power. Don’t go blowing your money on something you’ll regret.

To top it off, please don’t wear the whole uniform. Ronnie Woo Woo can get away with this, and that’s about it.

2. Don’t tuck your jersey in (aka Wilboning)

wilboning

This just kills me. Jerseys are casual attire. Do you tuck your t-shirt in? Do you tuck your polo in (outside of a golf course setting)? Of course not (if you said yes, you should expect to stay single for a very long time). Athletes on the field tuck their jerseys in because they have to according to the rules of most sports leagues. It has a valid reason, and a correlation to performance, as well as preventing in jury. I don’t think you’re going to get hurt, and you sure aren’t having to perform much more than showing off your chugging prowess, so don’t tuck your jersey in unless you want to be the biggest dork in the room.

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3. Wear a shirt under your jersey

I hate seeing this, and Greg Maddux did this a lot. He was also one of the best pitchers of his era, and he has license to do whatever is comfortable for him while striking guys out. It still looks stupid to have nothing under a sleeved jersey, and I don’t know many women that were drooling over his looks.

I think every jersey looks great with a ¾ sleeve, or raglan, shirt underneath. It works for every sport, but I realize for those of you in Texas, Florida, and Arizona it can get quite hot. In that case, a regular cotton t-shirt works just fine.

The one caveat here is basketball jerseys. Many people will wear them as tank tops in the summer. That’s fine, but make sure you put in some gym time first. ¾ sleeve t-shirts look great underneath basketball jerseys, and t-shirts are 50/50. You’ll either look okay, or you’ll end up looking like Patrick Ewing.  Just be sure to color coordinate.

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4. Get a jersey that fits you

I never understand why people think it’s okay to wear size XXL when clearly they’re a medium. This gets difficult with some football jerseys because authentic NFL jerseys seem to start at size 48. That’s already a size too big for me. You don’t have to have your jersey tailored, but you should know what size you wear. Jerseys are not flattering on most body types, so you make it worse when you go too big or too small. Just like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, get one that fits just right. If you have no choice, you can go one size above, but only if it’s the jersey of a sport that would typically involve shoulder pads.

5. Know your environment

There is a time and a place to wear jerseys. When you were a kid you could wear a jersey to school every day. You’re not in school anymore, and hopefully you’ve learned the art of timing. Are you going to a sports bar after work? Fine, throw on a jersey. Going to the gym? Heck no! Nobody wants to see you trying to bench press a measly 135 pounds while wearing a Ray Lewis jersey. Ray can lift a lot more than you, and you look just as dumb as the guy barely doing squats with the Superman t-shirt on.

Here are the acceptable times to wear a jersey:

  • At a game
  • At a sports bar
  • At a party specifically for a sporting event (Super Bowl, World Cup, etc.)
  • Halloween
  • If your work decides to have a jersey-themed day for fun
  • To outdoor events/festivals
  • Inside your own home
  • On a Monday if your team is playing on Monday Night Football

That’s it.

6. Shoes matter

This might be foreign to a lot of guys, but women do care about the shoes we wear. If it’s warm outside, flip flops and boat shoes are completely acceptable to wear with your jersey. For you sneakerheads, sneakers are okay as long as they’re fresh. You know those beat up running shoes you wore in last month’s Warrior Dash? Leave them at home. Go out and get some comfortable, crisp, casual shoes to wear so you don’t fall into this fashion disaster.

7. Don’t wear a jersey of a team that isn’t playing in the game you’re attending

Ever go to a Bears vs. Packers game and some tool four rows in front of you is wearing a Seattle Seahawks jersey? Why are you here?

Do I go to games where I have no interest in the teams playing? Sure, because I love sports, but I go in neutral colors.

The best way to avoid any scrutiny is to get an All-Star Game jersey. You can wear those to any game in the country, and nobody will give you flak for it. If you’re at the Super Bowl or at an All-Star Game, you have carte blanche to wear whatever team you’d like. This applies because at those events, every team has a representative (unless you’re a Browns fan), or you likely bought tickets without knowing who would be there.

8. Age matters…sometimes

I find it weird when someone is 65 years old yet they’re wearing a Robert Griffin III jersey. It’s a small quirk. As you get up in age, find jerseys that connects to the era when you first fell in love with sports. My dad rocks a 1969 Ray Nitschke jersey on Sundays. Now that’s pretty sweet! It shows you’ve been loving your team your entire life as opposed to having just discovered sports last season.

9. Blank jerseys are just okay

Jerseys are always better with a player name and number on them. Some jerseys you can’t wear blank, like basketball or football. Baseball and hockey jerseys can be worn blank, but making the effort to remedy that is always appreciated.

Here at Bacon Sports, we love obscure and random athletes. Anyone have the jersey of an offensive lineman? That would be awesome to see! Everyone in Chicago has a Michael Jordan jersey, but not everyone has Luc Longley. Again, if you have to go with the blank jersey, nobody is going to hate on you, but it’s the details that matter.

10. Wear the team colors, not a pink jersey

This is for the ladies. If you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and you’re wearing a pink rhinestone-laden Ben Roethlisberger jersey, I can’t take you seriously. If you’re proud of your team, you should be proud of their colors. Do the right thing, and get yourself a real jersey. This also goes for guys who buy camouflage versions of their team’s jersey and/or hats.

In conclusion…

Look, we know jerseys aren’t always the most fashionable choice in our closets. However, we love our teams, and we definitely love our jerseys. At the very heart of it, wearing jerseys isn’t much different than Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars fans dressing up as their favorite characters. It’s merely a matter of what is more socially acceptable. Therefore, while we claim to be less dorky, I’m not sure that’s necessarily true. It’s just that sports is less niche, and we really own it!

Take these 10 rules to wearing jerseys tips to heart, and use them so you don’t embarrass yourself (or your significant other) because anyone can be cool in a jersey if they know the rules.

Ryan Mackman has more jerseys than your girlfriend has shoes and he’s not ashamed of it. If he could, he’d wear a jersey with a tie to work every day, but apparently that’s “not professional.”  You can follow him on Twitter at @rmackman.

Send all tips, suggestions, and praise to boom@baconsports.com

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Ryan Mackman
Ryan Mackman has more jerseys than your girlfriend has shoes, and he's not ashamed of it. If he could, he'd wear a jersey with a tie to work every day, but apparently that's "not professional." The sock game would still be strong, though.
Ryan Mackman

@rmackman

Official Jersey Czar of @BaconSports | Formerly in Hockey Ops with the Atlanta Thrashers & @FlaPanthers | 6σ certified Health Administrator at @PremierHealthFL
Ryan Mackman

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36 Comments Jerseys
  • Joshua Withington

    I completely disagree with your “not your own name” rule. I ONLY wear jerseys with my own name on them or ones that are blank for two reasons: 1 – NO grown man should EVER wear another man’s name on his back. What, are you a high school cheerleader waiting under the stands for your boy to get done with his tough guy stuff to come cuddle you? After the age of 12, you don’t get to wear them as a fan. 2 – Lots of teams from various sports consider the fans their “12 man,” “6th man”, “7th man” (depending on the sport). That’s why I wear my name or blank. As a representation of that concept. There is one other rule, however. NEVER wear a leadership identifying symbol on your jersey (like a “C” or an “A” in hockey) if you’re not the captain or otherwise… you didn’t earn that. (An “A” on your jersey might be ok since the fans can definitely speak to the officials from the stands…)

  • Ryan

    You are entitled to your opinion, however, the majority of fans feel differently. What it comes down to is interpretation. Most would interpret someone wearing his own name on a pro or college team’s jersey the equivalent of wearing a Star Trek or Star Wars uniform. The idea would be that, “You’re pretending to be on the team when you are not.” You may think you are the 12th man, but today, every team has a 12th man. It has become a gimmick that everyone is copying like the Macarena in 1994. In my opinion, if you’re not a fan of Texas A&M or the Seattle Seahawks, you’re not entitled to the 12th Man moniker (which in of itself is a way of saying you believe you are a part of the team). As such, a blank jersey is far superior to a personalized jersey, and nobody will ever complain.
    Regarding never wearing another man’s name on your back? Why not? At the core, it’s a sign of respect. As humans, we respect the ability of Michael Jordan, Dan Marino, Wayne Gretzky, and Derek Jeter. It’s the reason why you still see people wear the jerseys of retired players today. You’re showing them, “I respect your talent, and I identify with you.” I was a huge Marino fan as a kid. If I met him today, would I freak out? No, but I’d shake his hand and say, “I really enjoyed watching you play.” He was a hero of mine and a household name for many years. The nostalgia of watching Dolphins games with my father, talking about Dan Marino, and enjoying that time is blended into the imagery of the jersey I own. For some it’s the nostalgia alone, though, and that’s okay. For those people it’s about whom they grew up with. Maybe they own a t-shirt with Super Mario Bros. on it because it reminds them of the early days of Nintendo when they were 6. That’s the same reason why they love the logos and players from that same era.

    If your logic is wearing another man’s name on your back is wrong after age 12, then that logic should extend to jerseys as a whole. In reality, the pecking order should be:

    1 – Jersey of your favorite player
    2 – Blank jersey
    3 – No jersey
    4 – Personalized jersey

    When it comes to #randomjersey as we here at BaconSports love to talk about, that is pointed more towards your personal knowledge of the sport. Everyone knows who Kobe Bryant is, but if you know who Sedale Threatt was you’re a better Lakers fan than the average Joe. In the end it’s about love for the sport, the team, the history, and respect for the players.

    In the end, the question is does your jersey speak about you or about the team? Probably a little of both, but it should never be completely self-centered. I give a thumbs down to personalized jerseys, but, as I staid at the beginning of this post, you are entitled to do as you please.

    Feel free to Tweet me @rmackman if you have any comments or questions, and thanks for reading BaconSports!

  • yukondave

    Here in Seattle, the number 12 is reserved for the fans (AKA 12th Man). How does that fit in your system? What name if any should go on a 12th man jersey?

    • Ryan

      It’s not terrible, but I think you can do better. Unfortunately it’s become a bit watered down now because other cities are copying the idea. It’s irritating, but we live in a copycat world thus there’s no getting around it. In my opinion just let Seattle and Texas A&M have it, and that’s it. At its core, the 12th man idea is the team acknowledging its fans. So, if you’re wearing a 12th man jersey, you’re not representing the team. You’re actually representing the other fans. With that, I would say if the Seahawks had no legends or fan favorites, then the 12th Man jersey is a fine way to go. Considering the Seahawks actually do have a pretty cool history, I think you’re better off choosing a player. I’d love to see a Brian Bosworth jersey. How about Cortez Kennedy, Shaun Alexander, Brian Blades, Joey Galloway, Steve Largent, Ricky Watters, Shawn Springs, etc. Want to go way back? You can find Jim Zorn. Want to go modern, you’ve got plenty to work with on this year’s Super Bowl team. Want to go with random legends making short appearances? You’ve got both Jerry Rice and Warren Moon. I love the idea of Sam Adams because I’m all for athletes with beer names. The point is you have a pile of riches in front of you with which to work, so going the 12th man route is kind of a cop out. I give the 12th man fan jersey a B-.

  • PJ

    Glad I found this article! Just moved to America and have fallen in love with the NBA and the Clippers in particular. Been trying on a few replica jerseys but good lord, they all hang to my shins and I hate wearing baggg clothes! If you aren’t close to 7 foot with massive shoulders and arms like most NBA players then you kinda look like a fool IMO. I see people in the streets wearing NBA jerseys that are miles too big for them and hanging down by their shoes and I think they look retarded. Everyone to their own I guess…

    • baconsports

      one of the keys to buying a jersey is getting one that fits. as a rule of thumb i won’t go more than one size above what i normally wear. as you mentioned, it looks like crap when it’s super baggy and hanging down to your shins

  • Chris

    I enjoyed reading this article, and I don’t have to ever have to worry about having the “personalized jersey” dilemma due to the fact I have such a common last name (Smith). In fact, the QB for my favorite football team (Chiefs) shares the same last name, so it works out! The main thing I wanted to find out from this article was whether or not it is acceptable to wear a normal short-sleeved shirt under a basketball jersey (for those of us with less definition in their arms), and I’m glad that it’s not something necessarily scoffed at, because I plan on buying a few!

    • baconsports

      i think it’s acceptable to wear a shirt underneath, though that is not the norm. you’ll typically see that more often when people are rocking a jersey when they are playing ball. most of all rock your jersey with confidence and you’ll be all good.

  • baconsports

    the problem with rocking an oversized basketball jersey is that it’s gonna look sloppy. your goal is to look fresh as hell when you are rocking a jersey. i’d opt to not wear that jersey if that was the case. if you were dead set on rocking the jersey then just let it hang. tucking it in is not an option as it can make you look like a tool, even though you’ll look more put together. jerseys just aren’t meant to be tucked in unless you have to because you are playing in the game.

  • Sam Cole

    When you say 3/4 sleeve shirt or raglan do you mean long or short sleeve t-shirt or actual shirt?

    • Ryan

      3/4 shirt or raglan is an actual style. Some people call it a baseball t-shirt. Basically it’s a shirt that has sleeves that cut off just below the elbow. Your other option is to wear a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves pushed up. Basically you’re wearing the jersey, but keeping a portion of this style in the photo below. You can wear a short sleeve shirt, but in my opinion, the 3/4 look is something that almost always looks better on everyone.

  • stuart

    just let ppl wear what they want.. jeez

  • Tony Szwarcmer

    When it comes to actual fashion rules (no tucking in, appropriate shoes, wrong time, etc) I get those, those make sense. But if I get a totally good jersey – right size, colors, whatever – and the letters on the back happen to spell my name instead of a real player’s name, then I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous how that’s “not allowed.” At some point, people have to have the ability to show their individuality, creativity, and all that makes us human. Yeah, straight up I am envious; i wish I was good enough and that my life worked out that I can play for my team, I admit that. But it’s not like the army where you can only where that certain pin if you were there (“stolen valor”). It’s freakin sports. I think it might be too nitpicky. But I happily agree to (respectfully) disagree.

    -dude with a weird last name

    • Ryan

      Tony, you’re absolutely welcome to your opinion. I love that this article can open up a dialogue about it. I think there are many ways to show your own creativity outside of putting your own name on your jersey. For instance, you can add accessories such as socks (I’ll be writing an article about that soon), or you can wear the name of an obscure player #randomjersey. That shows you’re a sports fan, you know your stuff, and you like to be original. I think unusual sayings on jerseys (as long as they’re not obscene, with I LIKE TO and the number 69) is also original. You are correct, though, in that having a last name like Smith gives you a lot of leeway.

  • Bill Man

    Mackman, I disagree with the “Don’t wear a personalized jersey” drivel you spewed. They are MY Los Angeles Kings jerseys(home and away) which entitles me to have MY name on the back. Yes, they fit. Yes. I wear a t-shirt underneath them No, I don’t tuck them in, And no, I will never regret having MY NAME, FAVORITE NUMBER AND CAPTAIN’S ‘C’ on them, because I cut the twill fabric BY HAND, sewed the 2 colors together for each number and letter BY HAND, then sewed everything onto both jerseys BY HAND, you sniveling putz.
    Acceptable time to wear it: Game day and ANY OTHER TIME I WANT!
    So you have a lot of jerseys, BFD. Nothing give you the right to make rules.

    • Ryan

      Not everyone is going to agree with me, and that’s perfectly fine. The idea behind this article is to get a dialogue started and to help people rock their jerseys while not looking sloppy or tacky. I think that’s awesome that you did everything by hand. Were you able to get a copy of the correct font? As for claiming a team to be “MINE,” I personally avoid doing that. Again, just my personal preference. I try not to say “we” won, and occasionally I slip up because we’re all human. Reason being is that I don’t play for the team, thus I don’t feel I have the right to claim “we.” Reporters in the media also avoid saying “we” for the same reason. The only time I’ve allowed myself to do that is when I actually worked for a team.

      When I write, my stance on jerseys is that I prefer to see fans wear the genuine licensed product, wear it in a stylish way, and wear something that either not everyone necessarily has (#randomjersey) or wear the name of a prominent player on the team. Nothing upsets me more than someone who pays good money for a jersey that they think is actually the real deal, and it turns out they got fleeced by a counterfeit jersey. As far as the work you put in, you absolutely have the option to wear your homemade jersey proudly, but you may illicit some looks depending on how/where you choose to wear it. It sounds to me like you’re perfectly okay with that, and in that case we can agree to disagree on this topic. I would still like to see your Kings jersey. Send a tweet with a photo to @baconsports:disqus.

  • Pink is one of the school colors of the University of North Dakota.

  • Ryan

    Of course, and typically during breast cancer awareness month (October) you see many more pink jerseys. There is a difference, though. Our issue is those who choose to wear a pink fashion jersey just because they like the color pink (believe me, it happens more often than you think). I’m all for breast cancer awareness, and I love that the NHL makes purple practice jerseys during October. Some of the proceeds go towards fighting cancer. By all means, buy those jerseys, just stay away from the “fashion jerseys.”

  • Nathanael Bennett

    I agree with most of these. However, I COMPLETELY disagree with the personalized jersey rule. Let me explain this one…
    I’m a huge Chiefs fan, and have been since a kid. My first jersey was a Priest Holmes jersey. After he retired, I bought a Larry Johnson jersey just to have another one. Once Larry was kicked off the team, I no longer wanted to wear it. So then I was gonna go after a Tony Gonzalez jersey, but then he gets traded. I have no problem wearing my Holmes jersey, as he retired a Chief, but I do not want to wear a jersey of a guy who is not on my team (I don’t disagree with it, I just don’t like it). So shall I buy a new jersey when the one I’m wearing leaves? Some people are made of money, however, I am not. So I buying jerseys all the time is aa luxury I can not afford. So I came to this conclusion: players are not always going to be on my team, but I will ALWAYS be a fan. So I saved up the money, and put my name and my number (16 which represents my birthday) on it. I am very proud of that jersey and I can’t wait to get one for my Ducks. If teams feel that fans are really apart of them, then my name on the back makes sense.

    Also, I only wear it on special occasions and the day after every victory.

    • baconsports

      i dig the logic.

      Because players leave teams often, i find myself gravitating towards “legacy players”, those whose jerseys never expire. like a Derrick Thomas Chiefs

  • Joy

    I really appreciated this!!!! I’m having a jersey day at school tomorrow and I just got a new Valanciunas 17 jersey a couple weeks ago, but I had no idea what to wear with it! Now I’m gonna be the 7th grader who rocks it the best! Thanks so much!!!
    -Me

    • baconsports

      that’s awesome. would love if you sent over a pic of you rocking your jersey

  • Zach Winderzight

    so many rules… i wear whatever i want.

  • Goldar…

    i disagree with the custom jersey. i have 3 real madrid jerseys already and im buying the latest one but i already have two ronaldos and a bale one and now im just going to get one with my name on it. ive always thought that was pretty cool to have your name on your teams jersey i never once thought of it as i wish i was playing type of thing more of a this is my team and i rep it type of thing.

    • baconsports

      as always, there are no definitive “rules”. we just have opinions. rock your jerseys proudly, do your thing

      • Joshua Mark Voss

        I totally disagree too, after the Cubs won the WS I totally purchased an on-field jersey with my last name and the number I used in my 10 years of playing little league and it looks SICK. I can’t WAIT for spring training to wear this thing.

  • jerseyman

    The only one where i think your wrong is the one about wearing a jersey thats different than who playing. Dude if your at a game and you team isnt playing who cares. If they play that same day, ROCK THE SQUAD.

    • baconsports

      to each their own, but sports fans do notice when someone is rocking a jersey of a team that is out of place. it’s how our #randomjersey tag got started

  • Janet Buckingham

    My boyfriend bought me a NY Giants jersey for Christmas! But he put my birthday (24) and MY last name on the back. I’m horrified and have never worn it. What do I do when we go to a Giants game this fall? This is my fault for being a HUGE sports fan and dating someone who doesn’t have a clue!

    • baconsports

      one my keys for sports fashion is to always be confident in whatever i’m rocking. if you don’t dig the jersey then don’t wear it. find whatever G-men gear it is you dig and rock it.

      if you do rock the jersey, i’m sure you look fine. with the increase in custom and personalized jerseys, no one will notice. rock it with confidence and have fun.

  • Bob

    Are hockey jerseys OK to wear oversized, it was the smallest size and it still fits at least 1-2 sizes too big

  • Kip Shades

    I came here because I work for a pro gaming team and I was looking up whether or not I should wear a shirt underneath my jersey when repping the team.

    My perspective on jerseys is a bit more unusual coming from more of a pro gaming background than a sports fan one, but the big thing that I’ve noticed is that among certain subsections of pro gaming culture, a few of these rules are turned on their side. For team-based games that use a sports league-style structure, it’s a lot closer to sports fan culture, just significantly geekier, so your guidelines still apply. But if you’re part of the fighting game community, wearing a jersey with another player’s name on it makes you look like a poser, personalized jerseys are fine if you’re going to a local tournament and none of that team’s players are in attendance, and blank jerseys are always fine. Though that’s just because in the FGC, everyone’s a player – the only thing separating the pros from everyone else is that they’re good enough to make a living off of their tournament winnings. Everywhere else, the general culture resembles sports culture in some way.

    Though imho, most pro gaming teams have overdesigned jerseys anyways. Team SoloMid and Cloud9 have some pretty classy designs (if you ignore the sponsor logos plastered all over the sleeves and the back), though every other team tries to do weird designs and borders and stuff to stand out from other teams (and I assume take full advantage of the fact that the full design is printed)

  • dirty gronk

    Everybody is worried what other people think hahaha

  • Steve-o Moreno

    What’s your take of Fans wearing a jersey of a former player who got traded?
    Ex: Going to the Colts game and wearing a Peyton Manning Jersey of the Colts

  • Erica Boisvert

    Dude, agree with all EXCEPT the camoflauge hat…my husband is a veteran who is proud to buy the versions sold on Veteran’s and Memorial days especially when they support Vet causes. But the pink and bedazzled stuff???Knock it off. The gray and jet black versions?? Kill it. If you can’t support your team’s original colors DON’T BUY GEAR 🙂

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