It’s burnt orange. Not tangerine, peach or coral, but burnt: a color defined by its relation to carcinogens. I’ve had to wear it all my life, and it is deadly — to my style.
Burnt orange is one of three team colors for the Chicago Bears, and I look terrible in it. The others are white and navy blue, which are admittedly very flattering for my Italian skin.
Because my father has been a Chicago Bears season-ticket holder for over 20 years, nearly as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve reluctantly attended countless winter games at Soldier Field. My hands almost fell off in the freezing temperatures and my eyes nearly popped out after witnessing middle-aged white men think they can pull off a shiny burnt-orange jersey.
Worse, burnt orange is also the color of the Fighting Illini football team at my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. George Halas, founder of the Chicago Bears, graduated from U of I, copped the colors on his way out and ruined fashion in Illinois forever.
It’s not just a personal sartorial concern. Most football teams either have shitty colors or their jerseys are produced in cheap fabrics. Literally, show me a person who looks good in Florida Dolphins teal and orange or Seattle Seahawks silver and highlighter green. Men, especially football bros trying to hide a beer belly, should steer clear of shiny, bright jerseys.
Study Your Colors
So what do you do if you hate your colors but love your team? Well, if you’re my mother, you pick the better of the team colors (see the Instagram above). “While we may not look good in solid orange, navy has always flattered our pasty whiteness — so you choose navy gear with orange accents,” she tells me. Once again, my mother, like her Chicago Bears fashion sense, is right.
Knowing what colors look good on you is the easiest way to signify you’re a fan without looking too straight ill-fitted. Don’t just take my word. Take the advice of longtime New England Patriots jersey wearer and No. 1 Tom Brady fan Gisele Bündchen.
Notice she’s wearing fitted jeans, a long-sleeve undershirt and a stylish pair of boots to pull the eye away from a questionable jersey. Sure, jerseys might be the only form of acceptable everyday adult cosplay, but rarely will they make you look good.
So I’ll say what you don’t want to hear: Men, rocking a navy blue and silver jersey doesn’t mean the Patriots are going to play any better — and stop competing in style matchups against Bündchen. Unlike Brady’s Super Bowl record, you’ll lose every time.
Hand Off Your Jerseys
Just think about the intent of a football jersey. It’s designed to be worn by an athlete in shoulder pads. It doesn’t really matter how good you look when you’re wearing a helmet and trying not to get crushed by a 300-pound, 6-foot-3 lineman.
That’s not us, is it? We’re sitting in stadium seats under bright lights, comfortably drinking a Bud Light and eating an overpriced hot dog. We don’t have the excuse of avoiding death to justify our oversized jerseys.
Instead, opt for merchandise like a branded winter hat or summer polo. Just look at good Midwestern boys Ashton Kutcher and Dwyane Wade in their appropriate blue-and-orange gear.
Kutcher’s bomber jacket and Wade’s T-shirt are on theme without hiding their hotness. As a former closeted gay boy forced to spend hours walking around Soldier Field, I’m thankful for their eye-candy service.
Don’t Fumble Your Fabrics
Now, if you’re really craving the loudness of a jersey but still want to look presentable, follow the playbook of longtime University of Texas-Austin Longhorn Matthew McConaughey.
Neither McConaughey’s suit or tie is shiny. He can make a burnt-orange suit work (and has the money to do so) by opting out of 100 percent polyester mesh jerseys.
Make a Hail Mary
If I haven’t convinced you to ditch the jersey for something a little more appealing, then you better go all-in on the eye-searing colors. Last year, Don “Bearman” Wachter joined the inaugural class of the NFL’s Ford Hall of Fans. A season-ticket holder for 34 years, he’s been the Bearman superfan for over 20 years, famed for painting his face in team colors and wearing a full Bears uniform (shoulder pads and all) over a full-body bear costume. Now that’s true style.