2011 September 12

According to Richard Sutcliffe, writing in the Yorkshire Post last week, chat in Sofia city’s bars after the England match covered three topics, the match, the price of beer (dirt cheap!) and ‘the mess the new away shirt looked’ with complaints suggesting the watching fans thought it was ‘more like a polo shirt rather than a team shirt’.


This came as something of a surprise to me, given that the last time I stood on the terraces (admittedly, back in the days when Alan Shearer had hair) men did not discuss fashion. Even sports fashion.

So I went looking for some evidence of this new discussion subject, and found it almost straight away: Nick Carbone writing in Time magazine points out that the language used to discuss men’s fashion is not very masculine. The idea of a ‘murse’ as seen on the catwalk this year (man+purse = murse) is apparently cringe-making to the average chap.

He also points out that market research group NPD claim that men’s clothing spending rose 4.6% in the first half of 2011, while women’s spending dropped 0.8%.

So it’s a subject of discussion (vocabulary allowing) and a big share of the market, but what are men really focused on?

Clothing that makes them look fit is the key requirement, apparently. Which is why the new football strip was such a disappointment. Each time there’s a new strip, it give the average man a change to wear some new styles without admitting to fashion interest. V-necks for example sell in much greater quantities whenever England are in the World Cup, as it legitimises ordinary men to wear a long-sleeved, v-necked top without feeling embarrassed. Similarly, long socks, snoods, gloves and short shorts all get purchased and worn much more readily when Beckham, Rooney, Ferdinand etc have demonstrated their usefulness on the pitch.

2009 March 31

The new England kit
Alan Green of 5Live called it ‘grotesque’.  Umbro, who produced it, call it a ‘technically specific capsule wardrobe’ – what would you call it?

The new England strip is deliberately supposed to remind us of the beautiful decade (1964-1974) of the beautiful game (Brian Clough coined the phrase) in England terms, in other words, when we won the World Cup.

So this kit is supposed to look both elegant and intimidating. It’s white, it’s mid-length in the shorts department, which is a bit odd, because by ’74 we were definitely into the era of the short-short, which was a pretty ugly fashion but there you go, designers have a certain amount of blindness to the faults of previous eras, thank God. And that top is definitely a polo shirt, not a round or even a V-neck but a properly collared dazzling white shirt. And as far as the England squad is concerned, it’s tailored. Oh yes, each of the lads was measured and fitted into a bespoke set of kit by a tailor.  The shirt sold to the general public will also be sold in chest sizes, like a formal shirt, not in small, medium and large, which are the normal kit sizes.

If we win through to the final this time, you can safely guess that white polo shirts will be the biggest selling item in casual clothing. So why not get your white polo bargain now? The key details here – if you want to emulate the football version -are to try and get it to look fitted, to ensure that the collar is soft and rolled rather than popped or sharply creased and to avoid front pockets.