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.