NFL Season is Here: A Football Fan’s Guide to Fashion
For most guys, the concept of sports fashion means wearing a team jersey inscribed with your favorite player’s name. Size: baggy. Comfort level: high.
But some sports lovers take their fashion potential to a whole new level, usually in one of three ways: the uberfan guy, the frat party/tailgating extremist guy, and the serious-high-fashion-under-all-circumstances guy.
Football & Men’s Fashion 1: The Überfan
Now, your ordinary fans will just slather on some face paint, or strip down to add some body paint, and complete the costume by exercising extreme enthusiasm. These fans might incorporate a known prop (such as the Green Bay cheese head), or a wig, but they generally wear a costume that can be slammed together in a matter of minutes.
In contrast, the überfan is easy to spot, because he draws attention to himself in every conceivable way. His outfit is homemade, elaborate, and involving the use of both face paint and props.
To some extent, the awesome factor in these costumes depends on the mascot and colors of the team that you’re supporting. The Raiders überfans, for example, look like Halloween and Cinco de Mayo had a love child in a Pirates of the Caribbean theme park during a Mardi Gras festival.
In contrast, the Dolphins fans just look…very Flipper.
In fairness to the Floridians, their football games tend to run for hours in tropical weather, which limits extreme costume options for fans who don’t want to die of heatstroke. Fans from more northerly states, however, can wear heavy-duty costumes suitable for extreme snow, or possibly alien invasion. Because it seems like the Seattle Seahawks überfans got their definition of “seahawk” from a Syfy special featuring bird-alien-shark hybrids: Barknado, anyone?
And some fantastical and elaborate costumes exceed the mascot, and just run with the team colors and logos to a degree that can only be described as…very heavy. As elaborately constructed as any Fashion Week runway highlight, these fashion trends were clearly inspired largely by the winter conditions in the Midwest (and may double as bomb shelters in case of emergency).
(And for the skeptics in the group: No. These are not all shots of the same guy. Indianapolis winters just have that effect on sports fans.)
Football and Men’s Fashion 2: The Frat Guy
While far less elaborate than the costumes of the seasoned überfan, the costumes of the frat brother tend to vary from the DIY-beer-inspired look to the I-may-never-have-a-girlfriend-but-I-rocked-the-frat-reunion suits lovingly crafted by Shinesty.
In general, the uniform of the frat sports fan must be affordable, simply constructed, and, ideally, stain-proof. Although, if the sports franchises were smarter, they’d name a team “The Caesars” and all toga parties would then become de facto sports fan events.
And, frankly, the most absurd bedsheet toga is still an improvement on the NFL-logo adult onesie.
And who but the frat crowd would take credit for the ongoing trend in NFL-themed ugly sweaters?
Football and Men’s Fashion 3: High Fashion Trends
In most cases, high fashion designers have a clear field when it comes to sheer shock value, overwrought absurdity, and emotionally damaging statement pieces—but serious sports fans have been setting a high bar for decades, leaving the professionals somewhat adrift, which is perhaps why so few high fashion trends are based on American football.
But we will walk you through several of the noteworthy looks from the last few years, such as Thom Brown’s 2012 fusion nod to the classic Quasimodo-as-Joe-Namath look.
Jeremy Scott took his 2014/15 FW line in the direction of Cookie Monster, with his reinterpretation of the traditional jersey, but with the vinyl pants, the overall effect is something like fluffy-throw-pillow-on-squeaky-couch. And his second tribute to the sporting theme does hark back to the NFL onesie, but in a slightly manlier athleisure-long-johns sort of way.
These more extreme looks (which still feel pretty tame compared to actual überfan gear), are offset by Tommy Hilfiger’s more classically preppy 2015/16 FW collection. (From which you can buy anything except the bits that actually look like football jerseys.)
And, of course, the Sibling 2016 SS look offers a more comprehensive interpretation of the football experience—with a special nod to the creative use of pompoms, sequins, and dramatically untied laces.
But although men’s fashions have been flirting with the NFL-inspiration, in the last two years, the trends in high fashion have been primarily adapting the American football look for women’s fashion. Perhaps inspired by Alexander McQueen’s intricately painted Met collection “Super Heroes: Fashion and Fantasy”…
Designer Anna Wilhelmi went so far as to collaborate with 3D Printing expert Antonius Koster to manufacture clothing architecture in elaborate 35-hour printing processes, to create a look “beyond fabric.”
Really, the whole industry of NFL-inspired fashion is surprising. The women’s fashion trends look like they could do serious damage to an opponent, while the men’s fashion trends lean toward pillow-esque padding in unlikely places, and yet both groups are seriously outclassed by the amateurs for sheer enthusiasm, creativity, and elaborate design.
So, what’s a fashion-conscious guy to do?
You can either spend the next three months designing and crafting your own überfan costume (hopefully in time for your team to make the Super Bowl) or you can throw in your Terrible Towel and pair your team jacket with a classy Polo or T-shirt, for a look that will be timeless…and far less likely to send prospective girlfriends screaming for the nearest exit.
Lovin’ the Game.