When we wear our soccer jerseys, we are not just wearing shirts. We are planting the flag. We are showing our colors. We are representin’.
Soccer jerseys — particularly during the World Cup, which starts June 12 in Brazil — are a sartorial link to action thousands of miles away, a visceral connection to something broadcast with cool efficiency on TV (or, in an even more detached way, over the Internet).
The soccer jersey blankets our lungs and heart, two organs we footy fans tend to overuse when watching a match. It covers our stomach, which too often is tied up in knots.
We tug at it in times of joy, stretching the symbols and thumping the logos in sheer, unadulterated ecstasy as we thank the Gods of the Pitch for the athletic miracle that has just put one in the back of the ol’ onion bag.
And we pull the hem up in a makeshift handkerchief, angrily wiping moist eyes when things are not so beautiful in the beautiful game.
As important as soccer jerseys are, it must be said they are also … gulp … fashion.
With that in mind, here’s a totally-not-serious look at the style quotient of this year’s World Cup home jerseys.
5 jerseys that score a g-o-o-o-a-l
A clean design with on-the-downlow patriotism — note the subtle use of red, white and blue. The best part? It will go with almost everything in your closet. The even better part? The team’s away jersey kind of makes you look like a superhero.
This particular hue of ice blue is very flattering and the oh-my-gosh-I-didn’t-see-that piping on the side can visually slim your figure, which is something you should not underestimate if you are not pitch-perfect. Ha! See what I did there?
It might not look like much (although red is the color of passion), but that kicky trim of green around the neckline and on the sleeves is just enough to make the whole thing pop without slipping into Christmas-ville.
If you think of the whole televised picture, few colors look better against a green pitch than yellow. Well played, Brazil. Well played indeed.
Who appreciates a slimming vertical stripe? A country that loves its beef, that’s who.
5 jerseys that get a red card
I don’t know what that left nipple did to deserve all of that, but it must have been pretty bad.
Ribbed for your pleasure.
You like looking like a traffic cone? OK, then, please proceed.
The X-Men called. They want their uniform back.
Remember what your drunken uncle wore to the table last Thanksgiving? Well, Cameroonians have some of the best breweries on the African continent. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Chile: This is how you do it. That pop of blue on the collar and the white piping at the neck draw attention to your face, and the white panels on the sleeves make your guns look bigger.
England: A bit boring, yes. But better to underplay it when so many other teams are rightfully bitter ex-colonies.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: The symmetry and centering is a nice change, and this is a hue of blue that almost everyone looks good in. Did you know that blue is the color of trust? Just sayin’.
France: Oh, puh-leeze, did you think all those fashion designers were going to let the soccer team get it wrong? The team may have imploded at the last World Cup, but they looked fabulous doing it.
Ivory Coast: Nice shoulder-blade panel. Pay attention, Ghana, cause this is how you do it right.
Greece: When you’ve had the kind of financial meltdown that Greece has had, it’s best to keep it quiet and tasteful.
Japan: That left nipple is shooting out rays of joy. You watching, Costa Rica?
Nigeria: In fashion, proportion is everything, and Nigeria has played their “fashionality” card brilliantly. One step more in any direction would be fashion folly, but this jersey manages to pull it all off.
Iran: Bad kitty.
Germany: Why are all the design elements waaaaay up top? The only way to balance this out is to wear lederhosen.
Colombia: Actually, this isn’t so bad. But unless you are a fit athlete, those “barber stripes” are going to really make you look like you’re in maternity-wear.
Belgium: Is it just us or does it look like something up top scared everything to the bottom of the jersey?
Russia: Maroon is for morons. OK, that wasn’t nice. But seriously, maroon is a tricky color for most people to pull off … unless you’re a crew member on Star Trek. Are you William Riker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”? You aren’t? Well, then don’t wear a maroon uniform.
Croatia: A soccer jersey equally at home at NASCAR may seem like a good thing, but no. Just. No.
Italy: A button-down polo? Really? Are they playing soccer or having drinks at the country club? This ain't rugby pal.
Honduras: We don’t know where Joma High School is, but they must have excellent soccer players to make it to the World Cup
Ghana: That print really can sweeten up a national costume in the Miss Universe pageant, but there just isn’t enough of it to register on the pitch. As is, it kind of looks like they ran out of white fabric and then remembered that the curtains are old anyway, sooooo …
Switzerland: That cross that is the national symbol looks like the Red Cross, which isn’t a bad thing in almost any other context, but here it’s clearly something the country would like to play down since they kind of hid it as a “watermark.”