From Gary Lineker’s navy shirts to Gary Neville’s chinos – the style clichés to spot at the Euros

Gary Lineker, Gary Neville and Ian Wright will all feature at this summer's Euros
Gary Lineker, Gary Neville and Ian Wright will all feature at this summer's Euros

Modern footballers are intertwined with the fashion industry. Their aspirational lifestyles and massive social media reach makes them perfect ambassadors for leading brands – just this week, England and Real Madrid wonderkid Jude Bellingham was unveiled as the new face of Kim Kardashian’s underwear brand, Skims, and Chelsea captain Reece James walked in an LA fashion show. Where they may have once been accused of a collective lack of taste, many are fast emerging as style icons in their own right.

Pundits, though, are a different thing altogether. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the likes of David Coleman, Jimmy Hill, Des Lynam and Barry Davies set the sartorial tone: always a blazer and trousers (often as contrasting separates) with a tie, likely striped for that sporty-collegiate look. Creases smoothed, hair lacquered and set. One might remember it as an inauspicious era of style, but it was in fact punctuated with colour and individuality: sheepskin coats, enormous kipper ties, and alarming facial hair. Just look at ITV’s punditry lineup for the 1974 World Cup – Brian Clough and co look like extras in an Anchorman film.

The millennium ushered in a more muted era, with the likes of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson usurping the old guard and introducing an age of sartorial banality. No more ties (except for cup finals), and suits, if worn, were muted. Lots of navy-on-navy, and charcoal grey; tight trousers, pointy shoes and shirts with too many buttons. Not drab, exactly, but salesman-like, and wholly unremarkable.

Gary Lineker is fond of muted shades
Gary Lineker is fond of muted shades

Then something started to shift. “There was almost an evolution,” remembers menswear stylist and consultant Olie Arnold, “[pundits] went from being ex-pros in their 40s or 50s wearing bog-standard suits to people like Jamie Redknapp wearing [tailoring by slick British tailor] Thom Sweeney.” That is to say, pundits started to think about what they were wearing.

It likely had something to do with the changing nature of punditry itself. Once a dour post-script delivered by newsreaderly men and platitudinous ex-players, punditry is now almost conversational, driven by banter, hot takes and swathes of data, and delivered by big personalities that refuse to pull punches. Pundits are kind of like your mates, and their wardrobe evolved to reflect that.

“You want your pundits to be accessible, and like you,” says Arnold. “If they’re acting and talking like you, and they’re dressed like you, it’s more palatable and more accessible.”

Rio Ferdinand keeps things cool and casual in brown monochrome
Rio Ferdinand keeps things cool and casual in brown monochrome - Shutterstock

Simple suits worn with open neck shirts are still the default, but just like many men up and down the country, more and more pundits are dressing to a new kind of uniform: a latter day business-casual that sits somewhere between the golf course and the boardroom. The likes of Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Jermaine Jenas seem to dress almost exclusively in light gauge, quarter-zip knitwear, technical chinos, bomber jackets, polo shirts, padded gilets, woollen overcoats and “smart” trainers with a leather upper and white cup sole. And all in a narrow palette of navy, black, grey and beige.

The look, says Arnold, is driven by a desire for versatility, and a requisite smartness without any compromise on comfort. “I think men at a certain age start to want to wear something befitting of their age, but that isn’t stuffy or boring,” he says.

Much to the delight of his colleagues, Neville recently pivoted to modelling, releasing a collection with high street tailoring brand, Hawes & Curtis.

Neville's edit for Hawes & Curtis features 32 of the brand's key items for the summer
Neville's edit for Hawes & Curtis features 32 of the brand's key items for the summer

“If you’re not passionate about it, don’t do it,” said Neville as he performed keepie-uppies and mused on the benefits of going tie-less with a suit in the launch video of the “Gary Neville Edit”. Featuring 32 of the brand’s key items for the summer – selected by Neville, the brand says – including linen tailoring, chinos, knitted polos and penny loafers, the collaboration has so far proven shrewd business. During the campaign, sales of pieces in the edit rose by 37 per cent, and the brand’s engagement on Instagram temporarily doubled.

“Gary depicts the modern day Hawes & Curtis customer,” says Ben Hewitt, the brand’s head of creative. “He’s got a busy schedule and the collection caters to all his [sartorial] needs, from the formal to the casual.”

Neville, however, is not completely representative of the punditry scene – there are outliers. Danny Murphy, though extremely low-key in his dress sense, seems to have a penchant for especially chic Patek Phillippe watches, and Ian Wright is not just stylish for a footballer, but stylish full stop. A master of lowkey, workwear-inspired style, he recently took to the catwalk for British brand Labrum’s Spring-Summer 2024 show.

Ian Wright modelling for Labrum's Spring-Summer 2024 show
Ian Wright modelling for Labrum's Spring-Summer 2024 show - getty

Elsewhere, former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge seems to make a point of outdressing his colleagues at every opportunity. Last year, he took to the Stamford Bridge pitch in a all-black, fashion-forward Prada look featuring gloves with tiny branded pockets on the back of the hands.

When Carragher asked what they were for, Sturridge replied, “It’s all about that drip, baby!” – in other words, the desire to be dripping in designer labels.  Carragher pressed on, asking, really, what was inside, leaving Sturridge to admit: “Absolutely nothing.”