Style in the football field: accessories, colors and technologies in soccer's fashion

The Football Museum


Belts, jerseys, shorts, caps, embroidery and socks. The practice of football is adorned by a series of sports accessories that descend from its beginnings. In Brazil, even if initially imported, clothing and props attributed a status of modernity to practitioners. After a few decades, these accessories became part of the Culture and History of football in Brazil and in the world.

The rules of football were agreed in 1863 by the Football Association. The use of distinct colors between the opposing teams became, since then, obligatory. The uniforms were born!

The rule was clear: "Each club should send the Secretary a statement of their colors and distinctive outfits." Until today, the use of uniform is obligatory by the rules of football.

The sports uniforms did not differ from the clothes used in the early twentieth century. The cut and the fabric of the shirts and sports shorts, was the same for the other costumes of the time. Bands, stripes and colors were visually differentiating features for the first uniforms.

Colors and stripes
In the UK, to prevent even uniforms, the colors of teams' jerseys became part of a common record. With the growth of the English Leagues, it became mandatory for each registered team to have a reserve shirt (white or not) to be worn when the color of the original uniform could be confused with the one of the opponent.

The aesthetic pattern of stripes launched by the English League has been replicated in most countries where football bacame popular.

Clubs also invested in ornaments, colors and embroidery. The uniform was also part of the social distinction.

Coats and embroideries
From the decade of 1910, also the coats, emblems and shields began to occupy important space in the masculine and feminine sports clothes. Embroidered directly on the fabric or applied over the upper pocket on the left side of blazers and shirts, the coats represent the visual identity of the sports associations.

The emblem also distinguishes the successes and achievements of the teams. The star, for example, element commonly found, informs the victories, symbolizing the respect and credibility of the champions clubs throughout history.

Protecting bodies
Industrial development, especially in the textile sector in the 1920s and 1930s, has allowed new types of tissues and materials to be used in sportswear production, increasing production and lowering costs. The incorporation of technological developments in sports clothing and accessories affected the performance of practitioners, better protecting their bodies from eventual bruising, as well as, in some cases, the dynamics of football games.
Boinas e caps
The berets and caps, for example, were a type of accessory very used by several players until the beginning of the years of 1930. They had a very fundamental function: to protect the head of the players.

That's because the balls up to that time had thick seams. If, on dry days, they could hurt, they became even more dangerous on rainy days when the ball weitght doubled due to water retention.

The end of the caps is associated with an invention of three Argentines: Tossolini, Valbonesi and Polo revolutionized football with a new ball model. They left behind the seams and knots when using an inner chamber inflated by injection and with a valve for exit and entrance of air.

Taking a sunbath
The appreciation of sunbathing, associated to health benefits and beauty, has proved to be another important contribution to the change in sports and everyday clothing in the early twentieth century.

The denudation of the bodies from the 1930s was a custom change that jumped to the eye, especially noticeable in the length of necklines, skirts and shorts.

Women's suits
With the beginning of World War I in 1914, women entered the labor market, performing activities previously occupied by men: from the labor service to sports and leisure activities.


The skirts became shorter when the women demanded more comfortable cut clothing that would allow them to walk and work more easily.

In North American and British factories, women's football teams emerged, which successfully occupied the place left by the men who went to the war front.

When they played ball, they wore long skirts or modified the pleated seam so that the skirt turned into a sort of shorts. The rest of the body was covered.

In search of comfort and efficiency
The pursuit of comfort was the driving force behind technological innovations in the manufacture of sports materials. They allowed the maximization of the movements of the athletes, resulting in the improvement of the high performance. In this sense, the efforts focused mainly on the research of better materials for making the jerseys and shorts of the players.


The lighter shade of tissues or "raw", without dyeing, were the most popular in the manufacture of the first sports uniforms in Brazil.

Until the 1930s, the jerseys were made of raw cotton, which resulted in the retention of about 50% of liquids, be it sweat or rain. The shorts, wide and usually tied with belts or drawstrings, have also proved heavy and inappropriate to athletes' performance over time.


From the 1930s, raw cotton was replaced by cotton knit. Lighter, it did not deteriorate so easily with use. In favor of field performance, uniforms got shorter, wider collars and smaller shorts.


The newspaper Correio da Manha, published in Rio de Janeiro, reported in 1946 the partnership between the Brazilian chemical company Duperial S.A. with the London Imperial. The advertising side values the contributions of industry and science in the development of sports equipment and lawns of football fields.


With the invention of elastane thread in 1959, there was a revolution in the textile industry from the 1960s. In sports, clothing gained in elasticity and resistance to perforations, in addition to becoming even lighter and with lower costs for staining.


In the 1970s one more change: the men's micro shorts and jersey collar canoe. These changes allowed players to move more vigorously and easily. The micro-shorts lost their "hegemony" only from the late 1980s, with the replacement of the waistband with an elastic strap.


In the 1980s, it started the era of mixed tissues, synthetic and natural fibers. Polyester itself or blended with cotton. Already in 1990, as football jerseys is produced entirely in Polyester. Despite the lightness and strength of the material, they were uncomfortable to retain much sweat, since as synthetic fibers does not retain liquids. The cut of the shirt and shorts, returned to the larger model.


Since the late 1990's, Dry Fit has greatly raised the comfort of sports tissues  The material absorbs the liquid and eliminates through the outside of the fabric, facilitating the evaporation of sweat.
One hundred years after the emergence of modern products, textile technology has finally solved the problem of fluid retention, which makes uniforms weight heavily on the body of athletes.


From the 2000s onwards, the techniques called Climalite and ClimaCool, ensure the evaporation of sweat even faster. In addition, the outside of the fabric of the t-shirts has become elastic and impermeable, keeping it dry in conditions of extreme humidity.


In 2010, the Brazilian team used jerseys made from recycled PET bottles (about 8 melted plastic bottles for the production of fine threads to make the fabric), combining technology, sustainability and comfort. With about 200 small holes on each side laser cut, they help the circulation of the air throughout the torso and the dispersion of heat. In place of the thread, glue to join the parts of the shirt.

Used as identifiers at the beginning of the 20th century, metallic pins and bolts have been part of the licensing program for accessories sold at major sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.

These small brooches have become pieces of exchange between athletes, fans and collectors, mainly for stamping colors or designs that characterize their countries of origin or clubs.

The formal clothing
When the teams went on to travel to competitions, many European teams and clubs used to give to their players, in addition to the game uniform, a so-called "gala" outfit. The well-cut suit became an indispensable piece in the wardrobe of the delegations.

The discreet color jackets helped create the visual identity of the group, from the players to the coaching staff.

Until 1958, field replacements were not allowed. The reserve players, therefore, did not dispute the matches, watching their colleagues in the stands, in "gala" costumes.

Credits: Story

Governador – Geraldo Alckmin
Secretário de Estado da Cultura – José Roberto Sadek
Secretária Adjunta de Estado da Cultura – Lúcia Camargo
Chefe de Gabinete – João Manoel da Costa Neto
Coordenadora da Unidade de Preservação do Patrimônio Museológico – Renata Motta

IDBrasil Cultura, Educação e Esporte
Organização Social de Cultura gestora do Museu do Futebol
Conselho de Administração
Presidente – Carlos Antonio Luque
Vice Presidente – Clara de Assunção Azevedo
Diretor Executivo – Luiz Laurent Bloch
Diretora Administrativa e Financeira – Vitória Boldrin
Diretora Técnica do Museu do Futebol – Daniela Alfonsi

Exposição virtual “Estilo em campo”

Curadoria, pesquisa e textos – Aira Bonfim e Fernando Breda
Apoio à seleção de imagens – Camila Aderaldo e Julia Terin
Edição de imagens – Rafael Lumazini
Edição final – Daniela Alfonsi

Realização do Núcleo do Centro de Referência do Futebol Brasileiro – CRFB – do Museu do Futebol
Coordenação – Camila Chagas Aderaldo
Pesquisadora – Aira Bonfim
Assistente de Pesquisa – Fernando Breda
Bibliotecário – Ademir Takara
Assistentes de Documentação – Julia Terin e Dóris Régis
Estagiárias – Ligia Dona e Nivea Souza

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