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The Basketball Jersey, Three Ways (and Off the Court)
11.21.17

In partnership with Nike

Here’s some (recent, fast) fashion history for you: In the summer of 2003, across all five of New York City’s boroughs, so many women wore basketball jerseys as dresses that the New York Times considered it a warm weather trend. It coincided with the popularity of throwback basketball jerseys being worn as shirts off-courts and in hip hop music videos — a slow and steady rise that began as early as 1991 (if we’re trusting the internet, that is).

In 2017, no longer “a trend” given its interwoven relationship with music, fashion, sport and sports fan, the basketball jersey is as much a styling option as anything else, whether worn as a “going out” top or while going out to run errands.

But still, that doesn’t necessarily make it push-button to style, especially in the cold weather, given its breathable/sleeveless nature. That’s why, in partnership with Nike (who supplied the NBA jerseys), I asked three stylists how they would do it. Below, Natasha Nyanin of The Ecstastic Flash, Anahita Moussavian of Alexa and the New York Post, and Man Repeller’s own Leandra Medine demonstrate their jersey how-tos.


Natasha Nyanin

Writer and Creative Consultant

Nike San Antonio Spurs jersey worn with Pleats Please by Issey Miyake skirt, A.W.A.K.E. coat and Numero Ventuno shoes

What was your jersey-styling thought process?

My jersey was predominantly black with a smattering of gray. I knew I wanted to introduce a vibrant color and as yellow has been good to me this year, I went with a marigold mohair and wool textured coat from A.W.A.K.E. I also leaned into the juxtaposition of aesthetics (casual/sporty versus glamorous/ladylike) and proportions (a fitted jersey versus a voluminous coat). For the bottom half of the outfit, I looked to a staple in my sartorial larder to complete the recipe: Issey Miyake’s Madame T, which is essentially an oversize scarf one can fashion into whatever one’s imagination can muster. In the same shade of gray as the jersey’s accents, the “skirt” creates visual consonance between the top and bottom half of the look.

Did you look to anyone or anything for inspiration?

Not while putting this outfit together, but now that I think of it, I often tie the Miyake piece as a skirt, similar to the way our mothers would do traditionally with a piece of cloth in my native Ghana and other African countries. (Nigerians call this “Iro” in Yoruba and it’s paired with a “Buba.”) I suppose there’s a congenital inspiration of simply being an African woman. We’re always inspired by something, even when we are oblivious of it.

Why did you pick the team you did?

Completely because of the neutral color palette. When I think of jerseys, and basketball jerseys especially, what comes immediately to mind is bold color, so I gravitated toward a more staid color combination.

You dressed your jersey UP. If you didn’t go in this direction, how else would you have styled it?

Probably the ever-chic route of wearing the jersey oversized as a dress with a white, collared shirt underneath it, or with black leather leggings and a black sequined blazer.

One jersey styling tip, please!

As is the cardinal rule of dressing, it’s all in the proportions. Play with proportions. And have fun.


Leandra Medine

Man Repeller founder

Nike New York Knicks Jersey worn with The Row boots and pants, Racil blazer and Roxanne Assoulin jewelry

What was your jersey-styling thought process?

I asked myself, How would I wear this jersey if I knew nothing about sports, just liked the colors, and wanted to make some version of a comment on my own style using it? (Which is kind of exactly the circumstance I was in). There are a few designers who are now playing with the sports jersey-as-top, but I always prefer taking a trend to its source.

Did you look to anyone or anything for inspiration?

Not really. What I did was challenge myself to wear something to work the morning of this shoot that I would feel comfortable incorporating a jersey into. This way I’d know that whatever I wore with it was a true reflection of the way I dress.

Why did you pick the team you did?

Because I’m a New Yorker, duh! And grew up going to Knicks games with my three brothers and dad, all of whom were fans. Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. I miss cheese fries.

You wore your jersey as the top to a suit. If you didn’t go in this direction, how else would you have styled it?

If I still had a waist, and could wear tight pencil skirts or, say, those of the silk fish tail variety, I’d have probably paired the jersey with either a leopard print pencil skirt and gray wool socks plus glitter pumps with a cable knit ivory cardigan worn over my shoulders and a pair of mini cat eye sunglasses, preferably colored mint, or I’d have decked my neck in hundreds if not thousands of gold and rhinestone chains and added a black ball gown skirt, velvet gloves that reached my elbow and forced someone to tie my hair into a dramatic chignon.

One jersey styling tip, please!

There’s a cool way to be literal about them: I think tucking one into a pair of track pants, for example, if worn with the right sneakers and, say, a denim jacket, could look really cool too.


Anahita Moussavian

Deputy Fashion Editor at the New York Post

Nike Cleveland Cavaliers jersey worn with Scotch & Soda turtleneck, SJP shoes, Patricia Field clutch and Marzook crystal ball bags

What was your jersey-styling thought process?

I always style on the fly, but I generally lean on some of my go-to signatures to complete the look. There’s also usually a sporty sensibility infused into my aesthetic as well. Since the jersey spoke to that, I contrasted with glittery socks, sparkly heels and a kitschy clutch that reminded me of a (very glam) basketball: the perfect balance between feminine and playful.

Did you look to anyone or anything for inspiration?

My closet! All of my sparkly, fantastical accessories are the perfect anecdote to the jersey’s super athletic vibe.

Why did you pick the team you did?

I’m technically from Cincinnati but…Ohio pride, baby! Plus, LeBron is king.

You wore your jersey as a dress. If you didn’t go in this direction, how else would you have styled it?

I’d tuck it into a major glittery midi-length skirt and pair it with beat-up sneakers. I’m all about that high-low sparkle sportiness.

One jersey styling tip, please!

Style it in a way that feels authentic to you (in my case, that meant playful accessories), not how you think it “should” be styled.

Photos by Edith Young.

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  • Aleda Johnson

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! I was just scrolling through Pinterest for this (but with my football jersey) not but two weeks ago.

  • Alessia

    Leandra where are your boots frommmmmm

    • Caroline Christianson

      And the jacket tho????

      • Elizabeth Tamkin

        Racil!

    • ReadER451

      The Row.

  • Camila Restrepo

    Leandra’s outfit! <3 <3 <3
    These three ladies gave me a much needed styling boost!
    I been wanting to buy a basketball jersey for awhile because I enjoy watching basketball (not religiously though) and to represent the city and team; unfortunately I don't really love the Hornet's colors, but whatever.

  • Allegra

    This is awesome! My boyfriend gave me his favorite MJ Bulls jersey hoping I’d wear it but I’ve had no idea what to do with it. Cue a MR article to drop some great inspo! Now I just need Leandra’s jacket…

  • Elise

    Extra “thought” in first Q for Leandra. Sry I can’t help it.

    • Patty Carnevale

      Corrected–THANK YOU ELISE!

  • Pandora Sykes

    I WANT THE RACIL JACKET SO MUCH BUT IT SOLD OUT 2 WEEKS AGO IN MY PREGGO SIZE 🙁

  • Senka

    Leandra looks gorgeous in that photo. Seriously rocking that glow!!!

  • Basil

    Do I spy the beginnings of the Medine/Cohen baby bump?! Squeeeee!!

  • Ana Vla

    Ok now I have to add oversized Raiders and Warriors jerseys to my shopping list thank you very much Man Repeller

  • Ashley McIntyre

    OMG THANK YOU. I’m always lost when it comes to dressing for sporting events – I know sports but I still want to look like myself at the same time, you know?

    Y’all always know just what my spirit needs.