You 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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
- 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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.