Fashioning a World Cup Final: How the BBC Dressed

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As their counterparts on ITV opted for a more casual presentation, sans jackets and ties and with open-collared long and short-sleeved shirts and sunglasses – seated at three bar or garden tables somewhere along Ipanema beach – the BBC’s pundits for the World Cup final came dressed in an array of formal ensembles. In a studio located further up the beach, with Ipanema’s mountains providing the backdrop, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand were not merely wearing suits, staid and nondescript, as Germany faced and ultimately defeated Argentina. Their wardrobes were highly distinct in form, cut, and colour.

Three of the men – Lineker, Hansen, and Ferdinand – wore suits. Boldly yet subtly different, Alan Shearer wore a blue blazer, slightly ruffled, with notch lapels, a natural shoulder and little or no padding. His white shirt sleeves emerged prominently from the arms of his blazer, and showed French cuffs and cufflinks. Saturated, and significantly hidden by the BBC’s stacked tabletop, it was difficult to discern the precise colour of his trousers, which were certainly dark, but may have been black or a deep shade of charcoal. The only member of the BBC team who deigned to wear a pocket square, its vivid purple and white pattern unbecomingly mirrored the purple and white diagonal stripes of his necktie.

To his right, Rio Ferdinand sought almost to revolutionise menswear, with one idiosyncratic choice after another resulting in a challenging complex of popular fashion. His 4×2 double-breasted, indigo blue suit had a shawl collar and decidedly thin lapels. The suit’s buttons seemed to be mother of pearl, and he partnered it with a bright orange knit tie. A gold tie bar appeared just above the right lapel, just below his BBC-supplied microphone. His white shirt had a cutaway collar; and he wore several bracelets in tones of brown around his left wrist.

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Alan Hansen – for his final turn on Match of the Day after twenty-two years as the programme’s chief analyst – took the most conservative route, wearing a black suit, with notch lapels and a rope shoulder with padding. His tie was a paisley of azure blue. Meanwhile Gary Lineker’s slim-fitting suit was of a dark blue pinstripe, with peaked lapels. Its provenance, according to accrued information, is the Savile Row tailoring house Spencer Hart – which advertises itself, via a quotation on its website, as ‘A new strain of British Luxury that is far removed from the old-fashioned backdrop of Savile Row tailors’; and which has been worn by such luminaries of the entertainment world as Benedict Cumberbatch, Robbie Williams, and Sean Combs. Lineker’s shirt had a tab collar, from which protruded a thin white-on-black Macclesfield dot tie.

Thus the BBC managed to dress both more formally, and more appropriately for the occasion, and at the same time more playfully than did their poor relations over on ITV. The degree to which this affected the viewing figures enjoyed by the two channels can only be conjectured. Whatever, an average of 12.09 million viewers watched the BBC’s World Cup final broadcast, while just 2.86 million preferred the fare ITV offered.

A Newcastle United supporter, but always ready to lay aside prejudice in the pursuit of objectivity when it comes to matters of dress, this website maintains that Alan Shearer was the best dressed male on this evening concluding the World Cup. His errors were the most egregious: the matching square and tie, while his trousers for all the uncertainty did look suspiciously and perniciously black. His choice of jacket invokes a longstanding debate over which types of shoulder best suit which human beings. While it may generally be accepted that a sloping shoulder or one devoid of all musculature benefits from some shape and padding, it is sometimes asserted that men who are heavily built in the shoulder also require padding to provide a straighter line and a more graceful appearance. Shearer, however, has the physique to pull off such soft expression: his jacket showed his figure while still hanging elegantly about him. It is for the construction and colour of his blazer – and for the daring to wear one rather than a suit – that he wins this website’s acclaim.

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All four men went with the four-in-hand tie knot. Hansen’s version was probably the best – Lineker’s knot with a thin tie was too short and stubby, while Shearer’s and Ferdinand’s were too thick – but he could have done with cinching it more firmly about his collar. His suit fitted him well and it was complemented by his choice of tie, but altogether the outfit was far from inspiring, and it had a touch too much padding. Lineker’s shoulders were a little pointy, but his combination of patterns was accomplished, the peaked lapels a logical choice for the show’s host, and his suit was a good fit. However, while Shearer and Hansen had their jackets unbuttoned while sitting down, Lineker kept his top button done for the majority of the broadcast, which meant that some pulling was unavoidable as he gesticulated over the match.

Ferdinand’s outfit wasn’t appalling, but it evinced a clash of elements which were far from perfect in and of themselves. The relatively high buttoning point of his double-breasted suit, and the fact that he buttoned the top row of buttons, made him seem constrained in the upper body. A thin shawl collar did nothing to help a thick, bright and textured orange tie. There is room for arguing too that his jacket buttons clashed with the orange, and ought to have been more subdued. Numerous wiseacres on Twitter posited that his outfit made him look like a flight attendant; the position that he looked like a flight attendant for a budget airline was gratuitous. Whatever, he surely flew home from Brazil pleased – before signing for Queens Park Rangers –  with his overall performance, having spoken eloquently throughout the tournament and surely consolidated a career path upon his retirement from the pitch. And so there’s nothing really to worry about, aside from being a little run-down.

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