With sport being such a cultural influence on people around the world, fashion is often dictated by superstar athletes and what they choose to wear on (and off) the court. Whether it be David Beckham’s amazing mohawk haircut from 2002 or Andre Agassi’s unique 80’s style, sporting icons and fashion are intrinsically linked.
Nowadays, modern footballers such as Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo strut around in designer suits and pristine Spartan beards, but their predecessors wore some pretty suspect combinations while they entertained (and horrified) the masses. Thankfully, it’s our job to plumb the hidden depths of fashion in sport, and find the faux pas we all want to gawp at. You’re welcome, everyone.
1. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Known throughout her career for her outrageous attire, Bethanie Mattek-Sands has never been one to shy away from the limelight. Sporting some of tennis’ worst-ever outfits, the American has still managed to reach the summit of the sport despite her questionable fashion sense. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles rankings, but this leopard-print number was nowhere near as successful.
2. Florence Griffith-Joyner (1987)
A bit of a fashion icon in the sport of athletics, thanks largely to her one-legged tracksuits, Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 1997 attire was a bit of a false start. Sporting a hooded bodysuit that minimised drag as well as dignity, Griffith Joyner won second place in the 200 metres. Sadly, the bodysuit didn’t make a comeback until Sydney 2000, when Aussie Olympic star Cathy Freeman donned the look.
3. Jon Daly
Known the world over for his jazzy slacks and outrageous colour coordination, Jon Daly was a man after my own heart. Whether he was chain smoking on the green, or ruffling feathers in the clubhouse – he was doing so in his own signature style. Look, Jon, I’m a big fan, but the state of those trousers…
4. USA Men’s Football Team (1994)
1994 was not a good year for the US men’s football team. Knocked out of the World Cup on home soil by eventual winners Brazil at the first knockout stage, their 1994 kit, modelled here by former defender Alexi Lalas (currently an analyst for Fox Sports), sported a pretty patriotic (and awful) star pattern across the front. Once the general manager of New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy, I wonder if Lalas would have put his charges in that kit? I really hope he wouldn’t have been that cruel.
5. Toronto Raptors (1996)
I know American sports teams thrive on brand identity and franchise players, but this 1996 number from the Toronto Raptors was nothing short of childish. Complete with a cartoon dinosaur on the front of the team’s kit, it all looked a little bit pre-school. Not what you’d expect of legendary point guard Damon Stoudamire…
6. David Seaman (1996)
One of England’s most popular players; sadly, David Seaman will always be remembered for two things… This kit, and getting lobbed by Ronaldinho at the 2002 World Cup. I’m not sure which is more embarrassing.
7. Norway Curling Team (2014)
There aren’t many fashion disasters that have their own Facebook page, but the Norwegian curling team’s attire has proved massively popular on social media. The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s Pants currently has 493,810 likes, thanks largely to the team’s propensity for wearing outlandish coloured pants at competitions. This Mondrian-esque number from 2014 is pretty eye-watering, but maybe you should check out their back-catalogue before you make any further judgements.
8. Cameroon Men’s Football Team (2004)
As great courters of controversy, the Cameroon FA seem to love a scrap with FIFA over their kit. This unitard number from 2004 directly contravened FIFA’s rules on team strips. This came after another row in 2002, where the team made the curious decision to sport a sleeveless kit…
As a result of these consistent breaches, FIFA deducted six points from Cameroon’s 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign and fined their Football Federation the princely sum of $154,000 dollars – a fine which Puma paid on the organisation’s behalf. Talk about a waste of time and money.
9. Andre Agassi
The father of modern tennis, Andre Agassi is widely credited with rejuvenating the game with his unorthodox apparel and attitude. Blending 80’s style with rugged handsomeness, Agassi was a star from the start. Whether it was his flowing locks causing a storm, or his tight spandex bottoms, men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him. That is, unless he was wearing this outfit.
10. Serena Williams (2004)
Never afraid to fight back against her critics, Serena has been a trailblazer for women in sport. The younger Williams sister has been at the forefront of the women’s game for years, and at the age of 35, is showing no signs of slowing down. Her fashion choices however, have not always been as on point as her serves. Take this 2004 ensemble, for example. Biker chic, Serena? Maybe not for the court.
After looking through this gallery of disasters that would make Anna Wintour wince, I’ve learned something about myself. I’ve got a guilty pleasure, and it’s Jon Daly’s trousers. Serena Williams needed to lose the biker look, Cameroon needed to fire their new kit man, and curtains never worked for David Seaman – but those trousers were absolutely majestic.