There are hundreds of fashion choices that look ridiculous, foolish, horrible and offensive in a sporting context but seven particular style choices brand the “sinner” almost beyond redemption. Socrates smugly sticks his massive nose in the air and points the finger of sartorial disgrace at the “sins” he finds most hideous.
Sin No. 1
Boardshorts are for boards. If you don’t have a board it makes sense that neither do you need board shorts. Board shorts, historically, served several purposes. They protected the surfer’s legs from rubbing against the wax on the deck of the board and they helped to prevent the surfer from sliding around on the board. Board shots also served the practical function of protecting your groovier/fashionable looking swimwear (that you would swim in) from the wear and tear that they would suffer if a surfer surfed in them. While it is true that boardies have become almost as much a fashion item as they are a practical sporting garment, these days, they look bloody stupid on people who are not actually surfers. There are a huge range of stylish, comfortable and practical examples of swimwear available, today, that look considerably better than board shorts on the non-surfer. Boardshorts are neither comfortable, practical nor aesthetically pleasing garments for any activity other than surfing. I am not pointing the finger here at non-surfers exclusively. Surfers who use their boardies for such non-surf-related activities such as swimming laps at the pool look every bit as much like dicks as non-surfing board short wearers do.
Fashion rule No. 1 – Swimwear is for swimming and surfwear is for surfing. Only dorks get this confused.
Sin No. 2
Ribbons are cool. Wearing ribbons to tie your hair back when playing sport is cool. Wearing ribbons in the team colours to match your sporting uniform is not cool. Don’t be tempted to do it. Ever! My daughter played representative basketball for many years and she and her team mates reckoned they would always know when they were going to have an easy game even before the game warm-up even started. How? From years of experience of watching opponents prior to matches they were convinced that the teams that lined up to get their hair braided and adorned with team-coloured ribbons prior to the match were almost always crap. Uniform ribbons marked you as a crap player. Uniform ribbons marked yours as a crap team. The brilliant Matildas forward Hayley (Ribbons) Raso is doing a great job at proving this generalization to be bullshit. She is one who embraces the ribbons in team colours concept and does so proudly at the highest level. I don’t know anyone silly enough to argue that Raso is not a great player. That being said, my daughter and her team mates would argue that Raso is an exception. Wearing ribbons has become her badge of honour. But it’s her gig. But if you choose to copy her don’t blame me if people think you are a twat.
Fashion rule No. 2 – Hayley Raso can wear ribbons in the team colours and get away with it. No-one else can.
Sin No. 3
I remember a German work colleague who used to wear white woollen socks with his black suit. Our snooty New York millionaire Vice President of the company boss used to have no end of fun teasing him about the game of tennis he must be planning to have after work. The same smart aleck VP once interrupted an important presentation I was making in the southern Spanish city of Malaga to ask why I had slipped off my shoes in the middle of the presentation. I had no idea why I was standing at the white-board in bare feet. The beach-side atmosphere had obviously lulled me into a very casual frame of mind, and I had kicked my shoes off without thinking. The VP let the incident pass with little further harassment, no doubt believing that crass behaviour had to be expected from Australians. Discussion of things that should never be done with your feet, from a style and fashion perspective, brings me to athletes who turn up to games wearing their sports socks teamed up with slaps. Slaps are fine. They are not exactly stylish, but they are comfortable and practical. Socks, too, have their practical uses. But there can never be any excuse for teaming them up. Wearing them together can only be justified if one is running for the esteemed office of President of the Bogan’s Guild! Wearing crocks with socks is bad. Wearing thongs (flip-flops) with socks is even worse. Wearing slaps with socks is even worse still. It is a borderline unforgiveable sin of style.
Fashion rule No. 3. – Turn up to your game in bare feet, in slaps, in a pair of sneakers, in your game footwear, in dress-up shoes or even in your stocking feet… but don’t turn up to play in your slaps and socks. Driving a 1960s Lada might these days be considered transgressive cool, but slaps and socks never will!
Sin No. 4
Mate? Seriously? The beach is that-a-way. Perhaps you are trying to make some kind of point that you are a cool surfer, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. No surfer would wear a wet suit out onto the street. By wearing a wet suit away from the beach, you are branding yourself as a certified kook like the proverbial kooks of the sixties who drove around in surf station wagons with surf boards nailed onto the roof of their transport. Wet suits are for keeping you warm when you a spending long periods of time in the water. There are some surf towns I could think of where you would get arrested for wearing a wet suit while hitch hiking.
Fashion rule No. 4 – Wet suits are for surfing in, snorkelling in and peeing in. Wet suits are not a substitute for blue jeans and t-shirt!
Sin No. 5
There is a reason why sports teams wear uniforms. It’s not brain surgery. Teams wear uniforms so that there is no confusion as to which side a participating player is on. Got that? When coaches start wearing an outfit like the uniform worn by their team something weird is going on. I have made it a rule in life to never trust someone who dresses up in a quasi-uniform because they feel a desperate need to look like the people they teach. It’s just not adult behaviour. And it looks stupid! Most coaches in pro sports these days dress either in smart business or smart casual attire. Both are fine. Some coach’s fashion choices are great. The ones who dress up in a team uniform are not.
Fashion rule No. 5 – If you are on the team and need to identify yourself as part of the team, wear the uniform. If you are not playing, don’t! Be a grown-up!
Sin No. 6
There are a million and one bad hairstyles out there in the world of sports. The one that beats all is the blond headed crop of dreadlocks. I have curly blond hair myself and during the rough and tumble of a game of basketball or rugby my hair pretty much transforms into a Celtic version of an afro. I can’t help that. Such are my genes. Frizzy curls are one thing… but dreads are another! Dreads are deliberate. Some people complain that white men with dreads are guilty of cultural appropriation. Maybe. Not sure. Others say that dreads should be reserved for people whose religious faith mandates that they twist and plait their hair into tangled locks (as some Rastafarians, Buddhists and Hindus do). These proclamations may or may not be reasonable. My objection to dreads among white blokes is much simpler. I just think they look crap. People with dark, curly hair happen to look great with dreads but pasty-skinned fair-heads like me look like a rat has moved in when they fashion their hair into dreads.
Fashion rule No. 6 – Nothing wrong with scruffy – scruffy can be uber cool. But grubby, as a fashion statement, is a step to far. Dreadlocks look grubby on blonds!
Sin No. 7
Where do I start with active-wear tights? Leaving aside the fact that tights look, to me, way too hot a choice for running, gym classes, aerobic exercise machines, sport playing or walking in anything but the coldest of climates a huge percentage of brightly coloured leggings just look awful. Despite the horror fabric designs many active-wear tight wearers not only exercise in their leggings but also proudly show them off at the beach, at the cafe/restaurant or at the supermarket. Years ago, it was only the designers of netball, bowls, Australian soccer and Australian rugby uniforms who thought that shooting fabric with multi-coloured paint balls was a good approach to fabric design but now the same principle has been applied to active-wear leggings design. To the wearers of such garments I simply say, just because others are wearing something it doesn’t mean that they look good.
Fashion rule No. 7 – If you are tempted to buy a brand-new pair of brightly coloured leggings for your early morning jog around the park, forget it. Get a pair of anything (even footy-shorts) instead!