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How to rock a jersey (when you’re not playing)

Now we’re really dressing.

Jersey Week may have ended, but in this, the age of quarantine, time is meaningless, so I’m here to give you the jersey content you really need. Before we get down to business, I want to be clear about what you’ll find here, but maybe more importantly what you won’t find.

This is not going to be some sort of “10 Kit Commandments,” or a definitive, universal guide to wearing a jersey and looking good while you do it. I’m going to lay out my personal approach, and the ideas that it’s built on, in a way that you can use as well.

I also want to acknowledge that I am a man, and that not every person looks the same, nor are we all the same size or shape. The concepts and ideas that I am going to discuss are the same in men’s and women’s styling, and while the fit of things is a part of styling in general, and my personal style specifically, I’m going to try to focus on other aspects of putting an outfit together. With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s get into it!

The first piece of advice that I’ll offer on how to work a jersey into your outfit or wardrobe is the same as with any other piece of clothing or accessory: just wear it. If you like it, and wearing it makes you feel good, that’s what matters the most. Above all, if wearing something doesn’t make you feel at least either comfortable or confident, then why are you wearing it? I’m not going to throw shade at anyone who dresses a certain way to impress other people, or to get attention, but I can say from personal experience that you’re probably going to feel better if you are the main person that you’re dressing for.

So you’re wearing a jersey, but you want to make an outfit of it? I’m happy to help!

I don’t know your life, but I think we can all agree that there are definitely places and times where that jersey’s not an appropriate option. It’s probably best to leave the jerseys in the closet for any sort of formal event — weddings, funerals, a dinner party at your boss’s house — and with some limited exceptions it’s probably not the right move for a job interview.

For the rest of the situations and events in your life, though, the easiest way to make a jersey a part of your outfit is to keep things casual. What could be more casual than leaning into the whole “sports” aspect of a sports jersey and mixing some athleisure into the look along with that jersey? We’re all wearing sweats more often than usual right now, and that doesn’t necessarily have to stop. Track pants can bring a little bit more polish to a look than your standard sweatpants, and often provide a slimmer profile.

Wearing something like track pants doesn’t mean that you have to go full athleisure. Although it works for Raúl Ruidíaz, on most of us mere mortals that move tends to wind up looking more Rocky or Run DMC at best. You can put a twist on it and make the outfit a little more of an out-and-about look by throwing something like a denim jacket over the whole thing. I’ve gone for a primarily black-and-white look here in an effort to keep the whole thing simpler, but that sort of color coordination isn’t exactly a necessity. Similarly, a denim jacket isn’t the only route available here, but I would suggest something similarly casual, be it some other sort of trucker jacket or chore coat, or a bomber or whatever you’ve got available to you.

Color coordinating certainly can make a look easier to put together — tonal and chromatic dressing can look really cool, and if you put together an outfit that’s all-black or shades of blue or grey, or whatever the case may be, you can sort of skip the question of whether or not the colors go together — but it also provides a foundation upon which to add a little razzle-dazzle.

This look is, at it’s core, blue-on-blue-on-blue. None of the blues are particularly close to one another, which creates contrast, but it also makes space to work some patterns in. There’s sort of some pattern mixing going on here, but the flecked blue jersey is a small enough scale that it can be treated as if it’s a solid, so the pattern we’re going to pay attention to is the floral print jacket.

Even when just being held, the color and scale of the floral pattern is going to make a jacket like this the star of the show. With a kit like the Pacific Blue, which is gorgeous and detailed, but still somewhat understated, letting it take on a supporting role so that a statement piece can shine allows the kit to be more easily worked into an outfit as if it were any other shirt.

Sometimes a jersey is too good to just be part of the ensemble. In the case of this Reign kit, it made the most sense to lean into the color scheme of the top, and extend that into the rest of the look. By making the majority of the outfit black, the blue in the shirt is allowed to stand out even more, while the white accents are able to stand out more by being reflected throughout the rest of the look.

In styling and outfit building, a look can often feel incomplete without the inclusion of a “third piece,” like a jacket or a sweater. As we move into warmer weather, and such additional pieces of clothing become overkill, accessories like a hat or sunglasses can serve as that piece that brings it all together.

Some times you might want to dress a jersey up a little, and while that might be a little bit trickier, it’s still doable. This is probably a good time to let the jersey be the star, and while you are dressing the jersey up, there’s a ceiling to it — you can make a jersey sort of “business casual,” but that’s probably the extent of it. Whether the jersey in question is as ostentatious as the jersey pictured or not, it’s going to be easiest to keep the look dialed-down, using primarily solids and neutrals, so as not to clash too much with the shirt.

The easiest option is to use a fairly casual pair of slacks or a skirt, as the case may be, and a cardigan, but something like a suit jacket can work. If you do want to rock a jacket, I’d recommend an unstructured jacket, probably in a fabric other than your typical wool suiting to achieve a more natural look.

Unless you’re Xavier Arreaga, I don’t recommend rocking a full tuck with a jersey under any circumstances. In order to create cleaner lines, this sort of look might be one of the only areas where I’d make an exception, but it’s probably going to make sense here to use a French tuck, a la Tan France. A French tuck, or front tuck, is a partial tuck that creates a cleaner line-break between the top and bottom of an outfit, without veering into the potential corny dad territory of a full tuck. The tuck can be centered or asymmetrical, depending on preference and the particular outfit. It’s not for everyone, but I think it can be a nice styling touch to make an outfit look a little more thoughtfully composed.

Some times it’s just fine to let a polo be a polo. Polo shirts are the perfect somewhere-between-a-tee-and-a-button-up piece to work into just about any look, and what is a collared soccer jersey if not a polo with your team’s badge on it? The bright blue from the Heritage Kit adds a little bit of whimsy, and the shirt blends into a look otherwise comprised of solids and neutrals effortlessly. To balance the brightness of the shirt, though, using warmer, deeper tones elsewhere softens the look, while the white sneakers serve to tie the look together.

I hope that this piece has been fun, first and foremost, but also that you found something helpful in it in terms of working your jerseys into an outfit or the rest of your wardrobe, or building an outfit in general. I had a lot of fun putting on a little one-man fashion shoot on my patio, and putting the piece together. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to chime in in the comments, or to hit me up on Twitter. I can’t wait to see how you all wear your jerseys, and look forward to the day when we can all stunt in our soccer kits together again.

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