Evolution of football fashion: From Stanley Matthews to the Mods of the 60s, perms of the 70s, New Romantics of the 80s and The Spice Boys of the 90s… how footballers' style has changed over the decades

From the 1950s until now, top players haven't just been measured by their tailors, they've also been sized up by fans for their dress sense.

In recent years, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo have become bastions for the fashion set, eager to spy their hero's next outfit.

But before Becks and Ron, the likes of George Best, Kevin Keegan and even Hoddle and Waddle were the fashionistas of their time.

SunSport looks at how footballers' style has evolved over the years, often pushing trends into society.

And there's an honourable mention for 'The Spice Boys' of the 90s – remember when Liverpool wore those white suits at the 1996 FA Cup final?

The 50s


Even though football was very-much a working class sport in the 50s, footballers turned out like true gentleman.

Players and managers wore heavy wool jackets, trousers, hats and, as pictures proved, didn't mind a cheeky ciggy or pipe.

The late Jimmy Hill and Sir Matt Busby were both pipe smokers in their day.

But the legendary Stanley Matthews was far from that type. A vegetarian before his time, 'The Wizard of Dribble' was a style icon and role model.




Not only was he the first winner of the European Footballer of the Year and Football Writers' Player of the Year, he was a trendsetter.

Fitted suits, pocket squares, even top hats – he was the man that all footballers looked up to.

The Italian national team were also well ahead of the fashion game, even back then, wearing the best suits money could buy, with halfback Rino Ferrario known for his elegance.

Even football fans were smarter, dressing in their best suits to cheer on their boys from the stands.

It was a far-cry from the Stone Island and Henry Lloyd-wearing crowds of today.


The 60s

The Beatles, the Stones, Michael Caine… the 1960s were all about Cool Britannia and Mod-inspired style.

The way the icons of the time dressed started to rub off on footballers.

'The Beautiful Game' became the fashionable one. George Best, Bobby Moore, Franz Beckenbauer all became revered for their style and started modeling and doing ads.



They transcended the world of football, crossing into fashion magazine shoots too.

This was epitomised by none more than Bobby, who with wife Tina famously posed for a spread in Vogue after winning the World Cup with England.

But the standout hero and pin-up was always the 'fifth Beatle' George.

Skinny trousers, leather Cuban heels and his long hair made him the style icon of the decade.

The Belfast boy set the bar high for the rest to follow, but he would eventually be overtaken in the fashion stakes by a certain lad from Leytonstone that also made his name at United.






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The 70s

With clothes sussed, 70s footballers started experimenting with more hirsute looks.

Leicester City legend Frank Worthington took inspiration from Elvis Presley with his bouffant hair, but stayed in touch with his northern roots with a well-managed moustache.

He even dressed a bit like 'The King' wearing flares and frilly shirts.


But this was the era the greatest hair crime known to man was committed.

And there's two men responsible, who were at the forefront of a revolution that saw men across the land grabbing some rollers to create perms.

Kevin Keegan and Graeme Souness wore their perms with pride.

Souness even roped Trevor Francis in to try out the perm during their Sampdoria days in the 80s. That's right, the perm lasted for that long!

However, Pele got it right. Influenced by playing in the US for the New York Cosmos, he went full on Studio 54, the nightclub of its time, with his disco look.





The 80s

With the perm beginning to die out, a musical trend transformed footballer's haircuts forever, as well as their dress sense.

And we're not talking about the mullet, although that did play a big part in the decade.

The birth of the New Romantics, think Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Adam Ant began to influence footballers.


Chris Waddle, a guilty mullet-wearer of the past, teamed up with his Spurs chum Glenn Hoddle to sing their own New Wave classic.

Diamond Lights was released in 1987 and reached number 12 in the UK singles chart.

They even performed (lip-synced) the hit on Top of the Pops dressed like extras on Miami Vice, another huge 80s influence for footballers.

Sadly, the pop career the duo had hoped for didn't quite go to plan.

They released a second single called It's Goodbye, which it was from them, that only reached 92 in the charts and that was that.

Arguably, one of the most flamboyant men plying his trade in the First Division was Arsenal's Charlie Nicholas.

Nicknamed 'Champagne Charlie' for his exuberant lifestyle on the pitch, he himself was a fashion icon.

He appeared on the front cover of the NME and, if you squint your eyes, would've been an excellent frontman for a U2 cover band because of his resemblance to Bono.

In the late 80s, Diego Maradona embraced high-end Italian fashions while at Napoli.

It became custom for footballers to wear jewelry, and the best player in the world wasn't afraid to embrace an earring or two.

In music, US hip-hop began to sweep the UK with the likes of Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C. ruling the charts.

This rubbed off on Liverpool who adopted street wear for the Anfield Rap, their 1988 FA Cup Final song.

Even Kenny Daglish got in on the act, wearing a baseball cap sideways with a baggy Adidas top.



The 90s

Another musical revolution had swept the country, but footballers shunned Britpop fashion.

There were no 'Gallagher' haircuts as the Premier League became the phenomenon it is today following its launch in 1992.

And you didn't see footballers wearing Adidas Gazelles either, they went high-end fashion.

One man that led the style wars to become the ultimate football fashionista, even usurping Best, was David Beckham.



He experimented with sarongs and splashed the cash on expensive designer clobber.

He also got himself a pop star wife in 'Posh Spice' from The Spice Girls. Metrosexuality among footballers had begun.

And that was highlighted again when housewives favourite, David Ginola walked the catwalk for Cerruti in the mid 90s.

Elsewhere, Liverpool's 'Spice Boys' wore the most recognisable suit anyone has ever worn at a FA Cup Final.

When Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman Robbie Fowler and Co wore white Giorgio Armani suits to Wembley in 1996 the world took notice.

But Sir Alex Ferguson, who was managing the Reds' opponents Man United that day, wasn't convinced.

He said the moment he saw those suits he knew that his boys were going to lift the cup.


The 00s to now

As more and more money continues to be poured into the game, the fashion houses and car companies continue to prosper from footballers.

In 2007, Beckham stripped down to his undies for Giorgio Armani after inking an exclusive £20m deal with the Italian designer.

Footballers became commercial beings again, and now we've seen the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Beckham launch their own fashion ranges.

They haven't evolved too far from the noughties beings, visiting the most exclusive designer boutiques to get their fashion kicks.










But the younger set are taking it even further, with the likes of Hector Bellerin and Neymar, who is the face of Replay jeans, being regulars at exclusive fashion shows.

They're even so concerned about their appearance, some are getting their teeth polished or fixed to look sparking new, step-forward Roberto Firmino.

And if it's not their appearance they're concerned about, footballers like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are wrapping their cars in chrome to look trendy too.

We don't where it's going, but roll on the next decade because we can't wait to see where footballers take fashion next.

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