Summer's in full swing, and there are sporting events all over the damn TV. The World Cup has presented us with lots of excuses to gaze upon Thighlights, but are soccer uniforms really the most awesome uniforms in the sporting world? If not, then what sport has the best uniform? Time for some investigative journalism.
Herewith, a definitive ranking of men's sports uniforms, from hideous to hot.
So fug. While the women are out there doing splits with a mere 3 inches of fabric keeping the world from giving them a gynecological exam, the men are swaddled in weird stirrup pants that rob them of the appearance of knees, cut their torso in the worst place and are basically butt-flattening relics from the '70s. Not exactly back-handspring-inspiring. Anyone who's ever taken gymnastics or seen the seminal gymnastics film Stick It knows how pissy gymnastics folks are about the leotards and uniforms, and yet: These are some of the strongest men in the world, and their muscles get hidden and buried under yards of hot, scratchy-looking synthetic fiber. 4.5 out of 10. Do better.
13. Curling (especially Norway)
You'd think these snazzy patterns would be ranked higher, since they're a fun, lively iteration in the blah world of sporting uniforms. At first glance: Festive. Second glance: Hmm. And then your eyes cross. The longer you look, the worse it gets. There's a very delicate line between appealing and appalling, and the vertigo-inducing prints worn by the team from Norway exemplifies the latter. To put it another way: Ooh! Oh… Ow. MY EYES.
Baggy, billowing, bunchy, unflattering, capable of making the tallest men in the world look oddly proportioned and short. Terrible. With so much jumping and leaping involved, you'd think the knees and legs would be much less encumbered. And seriously, just aesthetically displeasing. You know when you're trying on a dress and your mother shakes her head and says, gravely, "It does nothing for you"? That's the title of the biography one could write about modern basketball uniforms. Sorry, fellas: They do nothing for you. (Reminder: It wasn't always this bad — there used to be a much more streamlined look.)
Meh. Traditional, functional, uninspiring. But better than basketball uniforms.
Lurid, yet tidy, zingy, sleek as an otter and fiercely aerodynamic, cycling apparel makes it fairly clear we are living in the future.
The snug, narrow pants and broad padded shoulders cut a fetching — and appropriately intimidating — silhouette. Very Dynasty.
Much like basketball, tennis uniforms used to be better: Shorter shorts, snugger tops. Sleeker, more flattering. These days, the look is a lot less crisp. Still, Wimbledon Whites are classic as well as classy.
Tight tops. Short shorts. Mismatched shoes. All very good. Although: not as good as rugby.
Excellent. Flattering inseam on the shorts, fun colors, well-cut tops. Good work.
Knickers and knee socks might not sound like a recipe for chic, but fencing uniforms are fucking badass. Spotless ghostly white, identity-obscuring mask, chest wrapped, mental-patient-steez, with an asymmetrical zip or buttons? Hot and intimidating, like an eccentric, fashionable specter intent on stabbing you in the heart. James Bond meets Margiela. Voulez-vous touché avec moi ce soir.
Jockey silks! Vivid, shimmering, whimsical, eye-catching. Quirky. Flamboyant. Customized. Unique to the wearer. Each vying to stand out in the crowd. Over at the British Horseracing Authority, you can learn all about the patterns.
3. Greco-Roman Wrestling
The brightly-hued onesie — excuse me, singlet — is, in many ways, the perfect uniform. Cut so as not to restrict or hinder movement or flexibility, showcasing the arms and legs, simple and streamlined. This is what basketball players should be wearing. Believe me, I know they never will.
Detestable "sport"; incredibly beautiful uniforms.
Look, when you're celebrating athletic achievement, you need to let the human body do what it do, unencumbered by billowing fabric. Wearing as little as possible — while still keeping things flexible and flattering — is ideal. Just ask the Ancient Greeks. A finely-wrought Swiss watch has a glass back so that one may admire the perfect machinery of the gears, and a sporting ensemble ought to do the same: Showcase the hard-won sinewy musculature the athlete has trained and primed to excellence. And so: Diving uniforms are ranked Number One. Let Olympic medal winners Greg Louganis, Nicholas McCrory, David Boudia and Tom Daley — all clad in delightfully skimpy, handkerchief-sized scraps of nylon — show you what I mean.
Disagree with the rankings? Lobby for your favorite uniform below.
Images via Getty, AP, Shutterstock.