For too long the terms “sport” and “fashion” have rarely shared the same sentence, at least in a positive light. Latter day professional athletes have not exactly been the best sartorial role models. Some influences, like NBA-inspired street wear, have left an entire generation of misguided youth to perpetually trip over their baggy, over sized jeans.
While sports like polo, cricket, hunting, sailing and golf have each had important and noble impacts on men’s dress, recent decades have been less than stellar. Recently though, good taste and a little stylish flair appear poised to make a comeback.
Golfing giant Tiger Woods’ powerfully simple fashion statements on and off the course helped him wind up on the cover of Men’s Vogue. Neither loud nor flashy, Woods has been able to carve out a distinctive look that speaks of maturity and poise. Perhaps due to his enormous sponsorship deal with Nike, he also avoids looking like a walking billboard with logos protruding from every nook and cranny. The confidence Woods brings to his game is reinforced through his signature black pants and red shirt; a classic, strong color combination that has visual impact.
Where other equally talented pros tend to look a little baggy and often just plain sloppy, Wood’s exacting attention to detail clearly extends to his wardrobe. His pants are always tailored, neat and trim; his shirts, though loose enough to allow for a big swing, never look bunched up or saggy – a common problem in golf shirts. Of course, keeping yourself in excellent physical shape is one of the best ways to ensure that you look good in your clothes. Even the logo of his signature product line is strong yet simple.
While the late Payne Stewart will be forever remembered as a great golfing dandy who made plus-fours and snap brimmed caps cool, Woods has transitioned the sport into sartorial modernity with ease. So, even if you don’t wear a jacket to work every day, think of Tiger and take casual up a peg to classy.
When Roger Federer steps onto the court, those not familiar with this dominating tactician may be forgiven if their first impression is that of just another pretty face who can hit a ball. The monogrammed blazer, patrician bearing and wavy hair all belie a masterful appreciation of what it takes to win on and off the court. Just as he rules the game of tennis, Roger Federer is reshaping the very look of the sport as well. If any athlete is making fashion news today it is he, and rightly so.
In many ways Federer is a bit of a throwback and wouldn’t look out of place standing next to Cary Grant or Gary Cooper. At the same time he is absolutely an international man of the 21st Century. Living and training in Dubai and jet setting around the world to matches and appearances, Federer’s graciousness and timeless good looks earn him a reputation as one of the classiest guys in any sport. And he makes sure that reputation is well deserved.
When he won at Wimbledon last year Federer knew what image he wanted to project and was ready for the trophy ceremony. By the time the cameras were set up and silver polished, he was decked out in his ubiquitous “RF” monogrammed blazer, white slacks and a tennis sweater. Federer could have just as easily stepped into a Ralph Lauren photo shoot, which in some respects he did as Ralph now outfits the Wimbledon crew. In his own way, he was setting the tennis world’s style bar a little higher. After years of slouchy beachwear inspired shorts and tops, his classy and classic look hearkens back to the heydays of Renée Lacoste.
For the recent U.S. open, and what would be his fourth victory there, Federer’s tailor made color coordinated duds were an excellent reflection of his cool and collected on-court elegance. In the opening match, Federer took to the court in royal blue and white. For the evening he was the “man in black,” with a tuxedo-inspired outfit complete with satin tape running down the legs of his shorts and warm-up pants. It’s really no surprise that he recently graced the cover of Men’s Vogue, just like his buddy Tiger Woods.
What is most notable about Roger Federer is not just that he makes classic cool again; it’s his attention to detail and precision, even in the way his clothes fit. During his last match with Andy Roddick, Federer simply looked like a winner. Where Roddick seemed fidgety and uncomfortable, constantly pulling up the shoulders of his shirt, Federer’s fitted outfit looked comfortable, clean, and elegant. He was the picture of sartorial ease. Everything worked together to project an image of confidence and comfort, from longer shirt tails which kept his top from riding up to the perfectly tailored Bermuda length shorts.
The details didn’t stop there. Along with the matching head and wrist sweatbands, Federer sported monogrammed Nike sneakers, each embroidered with three tiny Swiss flags marking each of his U.S. Open victories. Cocky? Maybe, but now he needs to add a fourth.
Both of these exceptional and exceptionally stylish athletes have set new standards in the sport they respectively dominate and that’s no accident. Thought and detail go into what each wears and when. Federer’s reinterpretation of classic tennis style and Woods’ color-blocked authority both show an understanding that image is on an equal footing with skill.