Much was made of Gareth Southgate’s waistcoat at the World Cup in 2018. Apparently, sales of the suit-friendly item increased as part of England fever. So what to make of Southgate ditching his lucky waistcoat? For England’s friendly against Romania last weekend, he wore – wait for it – a polo shirt. It’s still safe: Southgate now looks like he’s at a barbecue rather than on his way home from a wedding. But perhaps this change spells something we can get behind. Perhaps it spells confidence. Let’s go with that.
It’s a mixed bag here. The training gear – e.g. a blue zip-up top with a collage of the word “England” and a minimalist tracksuit as worn by Marcus Rashford – has potential to become your sofa wear for the group stages. On the pitch, meanwhile, there’s the familiar three lions home kit, although kit nerds will (seriously) notice a regular sleeve rather than the raglan of the last few years. The blue away kit is more jazzy. With a cut-up lion print and a polo shirt collar, it’s as busy as the England kit has got since the now cult World Cup 1990 third shirt. Maybe this means the team are having a party – even without Jamie Vardy? Yeah, let’s go with that, too.
Ah, barnets. Footballers, while often incredibly famous, are mostly beamed across the world wearing the equivalent of school uniforms. This means their hair – and tattoos – becomes their self-expression outlet. The England team do not disappoint there. Ponytails are back, as seen on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Kalvin Philips. Jack Grealish’s hair – and hairband – is a work of art worthy of manga. But it is, oddly perhaps, Phil Foden who wins the tonsorial prize with his new tournament-ready peroxide style. It’s seen him dubbed “The Stockport Gazza” due to comparisons with the troubled midfielder’s hair at Euro ’96. As Foden says: “It wouldn’t be too bad if I try to bring a bit of Gazza on the pitch.” We can but dream.
The off-duty looks
If this was a competition of fashion rather than football, England might well have a shout for getting to the final. Calvert-Lewin and Mason Mount have both featured inside a very fashionable publication called THE FACE, and wear labels beyond footballer favourites like Dsquared, including Vetements and Supreme. Other natty dressers include Reece James, who enjoys Gucci and Dior, and – natch – Rashford who manages to combine being Really Good At Football, Really, Really Kind and Really Quite Stylish. The total footballer? Maybe. Hearts-for-eyes emojis? One hundred per cent.
The boys next door
It’s fair to say lots of the England squad don’t give two hoots about fashion. But rather than see this as something to count against them, maybe it’s about spin. Sure, Jordan Henderson looks increasingly like the commuter next to you on a train making a presentation on a mini PC. Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham could have been pictured looking a bit shy as part of a good news story in the local paper. But these guys are approachable. They are all of us. And all of us are going to the final. Based on aesthetics alone, anyway. What could possibly go wrong?