Sports Lessons: Comfort Defeats Style

“Feel” Tops “Look” When I Select Clothes

In outdoor sports, you might notice how the uniform choices change depending on the weather and the location.

Players in baseball might wear just a jersey in the August heat in Atlanta, while those same players might add a long-sleeve shirt under the jersey for a late-October game in New York.

Football players might pull on just a jersey and short-bottom pants in Miami in August, but if they’re playing in Green Bay in January you might see long-sleeves, a neck warmer, a hand-warming pocket and other accessories.

Did you see the Seahawks-Vikings NFL playoff game in Minnesota this past January? Players wrapped themselves in jackets, hats, scarves, gloves and any warm clothing they could find during “warmups.” (Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is pictured above.) And even after kickoff, players covered their skin in as many accessories as possible.

I take the same approach to dressing myself here in North Carolina. I often feel like I’m among the few men anywhere near my age (I’m 32.) who prize comfort over style. Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s not just me.

When I met my wife and started to get to know my teenage brother-in-law, he often made comments on my clothing choices. I wear a lot of T-shirts, basketball shorts and tennis shoes when possible.

My response to his quips and questions was always (and continues to be): comfort over style. That’s not how he sees it though, and I know many style-preferring men (and women) don’t. There’s something to be said for snappy dressers, and I love a sharp coat-and-tie look myself if I’m not going to sweat through it or have it on for 12 hours. But when I’m on the job or out running errands or traveling or just lounging for 10 to 12 hours in a day, how much do you really wish you could just be comfortable? It’s one way to minimize the impact of a long and tiring day or enhance a relaxing one.

That’s why you’ll find me wearing T-shirts, gym shorts and tennis shoes in casual situations outdoors for at least 10 months of the year.

In the summer when I’m working, you’ll find me in a well-worn, comfortable pair of khakis and a simple short-sleeve or rolled-up-sleeves button-up dress shirt. Who am I kidding? I’m incredibly hot-natured, and that’s why you’ll find me in comfy khakis and a forearm-bearing shirt most of the year. It takes a day with high temperatures in the 30s or below to get me in a sweater or a thick jacket. And if high temperatures are headed into the 80s or above, you won’t find me in dark clothing, jackets or opulent dress clothes if I can help it.

Temperature, tenure and fit are also considerations for me when I’m actually purchasing clothes to put in my closet. Why would I spend money and buy something that just won’t ever be comfortable?

Comfort over style. Many athletes take the field with flashy new uniforms and shoes, but their accessories are based on what will keep them comfortable in the weather and in the heat of competition. That’s my general approach to clothing selection, because comfort is what wins the wardrobe game for me.

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