How (And Why) To Manage Your Wardrobe Like A Football Team

A possibly life-changing theory on how to think about men's style in a new way

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Fashion, as we’re so often told, can be an alienating subject for men. Specifically, that is, caring too much about fashion. Wearing nice clothes is one thing, fretting over different outfits you’ve laid out on the bed is another.

But, like it or not, in order to do anything well, you need to care a bit. That means at least being able – and willing – to visualise how different pieces you own complement each other, what works and what doesn’t, what needs buying and what needs throwing out. Or possibly incinerating.

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It shouldn’t be that hard to keep a handle on, but, for those that really struggle I have a suggestion. And also an admission.

Since my early Twenties, I have regarded the collective clothes in my wardrobe as an imaginary squad of footballers. Bear with me for a second.

Like the head coach of a major European club, I manage and survey my roster of players (garments), balancing youth (new purchases) and experience (old favourites), expensively recruited new signings or those bought on the cheap in the transfer window (January sales).

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Below the waist is my defence, the foundations upon which any successful team must be built. Scrimping on this is a false economy and fraught with risk.

Shoes are the centrebacks, the last line of defence. Experience can be vital here, hence why it makes sense to invest in quality that will last for years.

Trousers are the fullbacks linking defence and midfield, first performing a functional role, but themselves capable of occasional forays into attacking action.

It’s the tees, shirts and jumpers which take up the crucial midfield – the core of any strong side. From the inconspicuous ‘water carriers’ who sit in front of the back four and get through the most work, to the box to box midfielders who can set the tempo of a game on their own.

Then we enter the jackets and blazers, those pieces that can transform an outfit. These are the flair players, the creatives, the ones people pay their entrance money to watch. They can be tricky to get the best out of, often need extra attention and looking after and even go a while without getting a touch. But they can also change the game at a moment’s notice.

For strikers, read coats. The glory leg. Style like football is a winter game. And like football it’s about results. Unsurprisingly, great ones don’t come cheap. But then a quality overcoat can cover up deficiencies in another wise mediocre side. A bad one can undo all the good work you’ve done elsewhere.

If you’re wondering about where the goalkeeper sits in all this, it’s in the socks and pants drawer. Lonely, they train alone, not receiving plaudits and not expecting them. Good ones you barely notice, but when things go wrong, you’re just covering over the cracks. So to speak.

Why do I use this elaborate system, you ask, justifiably? And are you currently being treated for any mental health issues?

Well, eccentric it might be (especially when you consider I have conducted imaginary press conferences in my head to announce new signings after a spending spree), but at least it makes what many see as a dry, functional, and yes alienating, subject a little more enjoyable.

Currently, my squad is top heavy. A litany of expensive strikers is clogging up the cupboard under the stairs, many of them struggling for game time. As we know this can bring imbalance and disharmony to any squad with title ambitions.

I need to make some tough decisions over the coming months, and expect to see some big names leaving.

My defence on the other hand is ageing and desperately in need of cover beyond the first-choice back four. It’ll be an expensive transfer window but I have my eye on a few targets that could help in both the short- and long-term. In clothes as in football, a manager’s work is never done.


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