American men are at a unique style disadvantage when it comes to supporting their favorite teams. Baseball, basketball, and football jerseys are almost uniformly unflattering on anyone who isn’t 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, and made of pure muscle. This fact – an inconvenient truth, really – is the reason so many men walk around in those faux-uniform T-shirts that make them look like their mothers are about to drive them to Little League practice. Fortunately, the U.S. Men’s National Team (along with a precious few MLS clubs) is looking pretty good.
Soccer uniforms have long been a European style staple. France is as sartorially bound to “Les Bleus” as they are perpetually concerned about their performance and, in the Netherlands, orange and black is de rigueur on game day. Here’s the thing: Team America’s kit is cooler than anything the Old World has to offer. The home uniform boasts bold red and white stripes, the away is navy with a simple dark stripe across the chest, and the 2013 Centennial Jersey – a limited edition uniform celebrating the original national team – is a pure white polo with the collar chopped off and an American seal on the left breast.
With the Men’s Team smoothly advancing through qualifying rounds on its way to the World Cup, now is the time to get nationalistic. The shirts look great with jeans and casual shoes and will garner more compliments than sneers in an office setting. Sure, there is always going to be someone who wants to make fun of soccer – “A 1-1 tie? How boring!” – but these people are increasingly viewed as ignorant. (There is nothing wrong with disliking soccer, but loudly voiced disdain seems more like whining than criticism.) If you don’t want to get into it with anyone, just wear the Centennial Jersey. In-the-know fans will recognize it and everyone else will think you’re rocking a retro, preppy look.
The virtue of rocking a national team jersey as opposed to a, say, New York Red Bull’s uniform, is that you won’t wind up serving as a walking billboard. Still, a select few MLS teams have advertisement-free kits. The Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo, and Chicago Fire (when they’re wearing their Home Call Up jersey) all look both slick and proper. Other teams, including the Columbus Crew, wear collared uniforms that make fans look professional.
The moral of the story: Wear a Celtics or Patriots or Red Sox shirt with pride, just take it easy on the “authentic” or faux jerseys. If you’re going to wear a uniform, wear one that makes you look like an adult who happens to be a sports fan rather than vice versa. [$85; USSoccerStore.com]