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what a football coach can teach you about clothes

I’ve consumed a lot of football by osmosis. Because the game itself does not appeal to me, I’ve had to find other ways to get through the hours that Tom spends on the couch during football season, so I focus on things like how cold Pam Oliver looks when she’s on the sidelines during a Pats home game, or how alarmingly orange Kirk Herbstreit has gotten in recent years. Mostly though, when required to watch football, I focus on what people are wearing during the game. The uniforms are diverting, but the real fashion lessons are to be learned from the coaches.

1. Commit to your hat

I don’t know a lot about football, but I know this: Paul Bear Bryant knew how to pull off a hat. Look at that houndstooth, and the feather! With a paisley tie, no less. Kills me. It’s great that men these days are exploring hats as an extension of their outfits. The thing about a hat, though, is that if you are in any way hesitant about it, it’s going to show. And once you start doubting your hat, so will others, and all of a sudden, you’re the Guy Who is Trying Too Hard.

So you need to own the hat. It helps with the owning if your hat does not look so new that it’s obvious that it’s the first time you are wearing it. Do what needs to be done–stomp on it a bit, or throw it in your kid’s costume bin for a week or two. What you are going for is “Hmm, he looks cool in that hat,” not “Whoa! Now that’s a fedora.”

I have nothing on-topic to say about Woody and Bo here, except my husband insisted I include this photo, and I guess they are both wearing hats. However, I can point out five crimes against fashion between the two of them, how about you? You can start with the redundant undershirt on Woody. Go.

2. To tuck, or not to tuck

My boss is totally bothered when guys at the office do not tuck in their shirts on casual Fridays. As he tells it, some shirts are meant to be tucked in, and others are not. I think, in general, a good way to tell if your shirt was meant to be tucked is to look at the hem. If the hem is longer in the back than in the front, chances are the shirt was meant to be tucked in, although there are exceptions.

But whatever the shirt, you should tuck or not tuck in a manner that flatters your particular shape. Rex Ryan here is a generally odious man and has the honor of being my ultimate low in “Would You Rather,” meaning that I would rather have relations with almost any man alive over Rex Ryan. But I think it could be argued that in the photo above, Rex is dressing in a way that is as flattering as is possible for his figure. He is wearing black over the largest part of his body, it is contrasted with the white underneath, which draws even more attention away from his middle, and most importantly, the top is not tucked in. I’m not saying you can’t tell that Rex has a gut, I’m just saying that he’s doing a passable job of minimizing it.

Charlie Weis could take some tips from Rex Ryan on how to minimize his problem areas. To put it simply: Charlie is a tucker, when he shouldn’t be. The thing is, if you don’t hate Notre Dame as much as Tom does, you may not have had much occasion to watch Charlie Weis, and you might think that this photo captures him on a particularly bad day. But you would be wrong, because every time I have seen Charlie Weis, he is wearing this exact same outfit. And I can’t figure it out, because not only is this outfit not minimizing his figure flaws, it looks to have been designed specifically to call attention to his trouble spots. For example, his belt is cinched so tight that it makes me uncomfortable to look at him, so I can only imagine what it must feel like for Charlie. I like to imagine that Number 13 in the photo is imploring Charlie to loosen his belt, or at the very least, for the LOVE OF GOD, to pull his shirt out of his pants.

3. Suit up

I understand that the NFL no longer allows coaches to wear suits on the field, because it wants its coaches to wear NFL-sponsored gear. I didn’t cite-check this info, so if it’s wrong, you can contact Ethan Samson about it. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame that coaches no longer wear suits during games, because I don’t care who you are–if you are a guy, chances are you are going to look better in a suit than in any other outfit.

A properly cut suit that fits right will broaden your shoulders while narrowing your hips and waist. I realize there are two big ifs right there, since a lot of guys buy suits in the wrong cut that fit too big. George Halas, above, is wearing a suit that I’d swear is 80’s Armani, except the photo is from the 1930’s. George is pulling off the too-big suit, but that’s probably only because he’s moving in the photo and the suit has great drape. I’d bet if he was standing still, the suit wouldn’t look half as good. And chances are, you aren’t gesticulating angrily from the sideline in your everyday life. In fact, you’re probably standing still a lot. So get a suit that fits. Like Tom Landry’s.

Or Mike Nolan’s. I don’t know a thing about Mike Nolan, but I like what he’s selling. He looks like he wandered off of L.A. Law and walked onto the football game on the next channel by accident, but that’s ok. He is also clearly doused in Drakkar Noir. But that also is ok, because I don’t care what you say about Drakkar Noir–that stuff smells bomb. The jacket is a little long, and the pants are a bit too big, but I’ll cut him some slack since I think this suit probably actually IS Armani. I don’t even mind the lining of his suit, which looks like it should be wallpapering the boudoir of a French whore. And news flash, guys: tie bars are back. So not only is Mike Nolan hot, he is on trend for 2012.

4. Layers are your friends, except when they’re not

How could you not love a guy whose name is Lovie, and who will wear that hat on national TV? I put Lovie here with Bill Belichick (at top) in the obvious category of how not to layer. Bill Belichick is, as usual, wearing clothes that I would paint my house in, but I actually prefer his outfit to Lovie’s, because Lovie has layered his sweatshirt over a mock turtleneck. What is the point, exactly, of a mock turtleneck? I’m serious–if you know, please share, because I am dying to know. I mean, if your neck is cold, go full turtle. If your neck is not cold, save yourself some grief and just go with a normal shirt with a normal neckline. I also object to Lovie’s decision to pair his ill-advised sweatshirt-mock turtleneck combo with Dockers that have a knife pleat in them. His outfit is the equivalent of a reverse mullet. Party on top, business on the bottom. So terrible.

Now that you’ve seen how not to layer, we’re going to go the other way, and Mike Ditka is going to show you how layering is done.

Ditka is lookin’ natty, and he knows it. I love the monochromatic mixing, which, to be fair, is probably because blue is the Bears’ color. I love the acrylic sweater over the shirt and polka dot tie. I love the windbreaker. My grandpa would KILL for that windbreaker. And the proportions are right. Everything fits. He hasn’t tucked his sweater into his pants. I love this man.

5. Be yourself

I read a long article about John Madden a few years ago in the New York Times that made him sound like a seriously quirky and lonely dude. Ever since that article, I’ve found him kind of fascinating. Anyway, I love this photo because John Madden is being John Madden, and it’s totally ridiculous, but it’s working. I like the white belt with the punched out hole detail. I like the Adidas. I even like the half-sleeve shirt, which says middle management in the worst possible way. In the end, you don’t really see the outfit, you see the man. And that’s what clothes, at their best, should do for you.

30 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this one 🙂 I had no idea football and fashion were so well acclimated.

    September 13, 2012
  2. Jeebers I’m old. Isn’t that Kenny Stabler in the shot with Madden? That must have been taken so long ago – I was actually still able to watch pro football back in those days. Now, as wife/witness to a neurosurgeon’s career I’ve had to put pro football on the shelf along with boxing. Too many head injuries as part of the bargain for me to be able to view without feeling complicit in the predictable demise of so many amazing athletes.

    So not just old but I’m a party poop to boot. Delete this comment if you wish. Don’t mean to rain on what is otherwise a fabulously funny and spot on commentary about the decline in coachly sartorial splendor.

    September 8, 2012
    • i’d never delete a comment from you! and there seem to be an awful lot of stories recently revealing the dark side to football. i was very sad about junior seau

      September 9, 2012
  3. This post is so awesome. I, too, am subjected to hours and hours of football, so I have sympathy for you. But, I love that this came out of it. Especially the part about Charlie Weis. I laughed out loud and had to read it to my husband!

    September 7, 2012
    • charlie weis seems like a good person. so it makes the tragedy of his clothes doubly sad

      September 9, 2012
  4. Courtney #

    Killer column. I really like the part about how guys look best in suits–so true. I saw this dude recently who unbuttons the last button on each of his suit jacket sleeves so that people (who apparently can’t tell by the quality that it’s custom) will know that it’s custom. It kills me. You should do a blog about that. I’ll reveal his identity when I see you for lunch and maybe you can interview him.

    September 7, 2012
    • that sounds ridiculous. but i imagine he looks good in his suits

      September 9, 2012
  5. Holy hell that was a good one. I’m at work killing time and laughing at my computer screen while my nieghbors are like uhhh are you okay???

    September 7, 2012
  6. Great topic, never really thought about football like this, Great John Madden pic too!

    September 7, 2012
    • i can think about most sports in similar fashion. whatever it takes

      September 9, 2012
  7. Oh. My. Stars. I LOVE this post. SO glad I found you. Looking forward to reading more.
    PS Go Giants!

    September 7, 2012
    • I believe the Giants are Eli Manning’s team. And I also believe the Giants beat the Patriots last year during the Super Bowl. The Patriots have a quarterback who played at Michigan. Which means that I am obligated to respond, Go Pats. Glad you enjoyed reading!

      September 9, 2012
  8. I love this post. Football has arrived and we can’t do anything about it. Love this take on the season. Thanks for writing!!

    September 7, 2012
  9. Reblogged this on yoonanimous and commented:

    fall. football. fashion. gearing up for a new fashion post, and reposting an old one

    September 7, 2012
  10. This is fantastic. I enjoy your writing style and humor, and will undoubtedly spend hours trying to catch up on your posts I have missed thus far. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    January 5, 2012
  11. Ula #

    An entire post about football coaches and no mention of history’s greatest coach, Coach Taylor from Dillon (and later East Dillon) High? I know it’s high school football and fiction but no one rocks multiple pieces of the same color + khakis quite like Kyle Chandler. I hate football but love me some FNL. If you ever need inspiration or a good pep talk, this should pretty much do it.

    January 2, 2012
    • fake coaches are invariably better dressed than real coaches. they have a costume department, for starters.

      April 26, 2012
  12. Was forwarded this post by a friend who though we had a similar sense of humor in our blogs and I’m so glad she did! Great writing, looking forward to reading your others!

    December 31, 2011
  13. Teal #

    Yoona! I spent the new years weekend reading some of your blogs aloud to the group! All in stitches. You should write a column for the Oregonian !!!! Or better NYT!!!
    Great job. So many of us enjoy it. Great job.

    December 30, 2011
    • Thanks Teal, awesome to hear. Hope everyone arrived back in Portland in one piece.

      January 1, 2012
  14. Brian Norman #

    Come on leave the God of Coaching alone. Belichick wearing the hoodie is being Belichick That is him. Simple not caring how he looks because he is more interested in winning SuperBowls. Hence why he is about to make a run deep into the playoffs and Mike Dolan is busy putting Drakar on and working in a law office!

    Tom how could you let her go after the man like that?

    December 30, 2011
    • Dude, I practically complimented Belichick compared to the rest of them! All I said is that I’d paint my house in what he is wearing, which is a comment I stand by. Believe it or not, I actually love Bill Belichick, who seems like a surly badass. Satisfied? I imagine not.

      December 30, 2011
      • Brian #

        That’s cool

        If it makes you feel any better I have the same sweatshirt and I paint in it

        December 30, 2011
      • Brian #

        By the way, the league has some say in what the players wear…

        Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was fined $10,000 by the NFL this week after wearing an unauthorized promotional hat during his post-game interview following Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, a league spokesman confirms.

        December 30, 2011
  15. Very nice write up!

    December 30, 2011

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