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Best decade of sports uniforms? (redux)


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This was one of the first posts I made when I joined this site 10 years ago, and since it's bad form to bring back a 10-year old thread, I will make a new one.


I feel like the 1980s was the apex for sports uniform design.


In baseball, you had quite a diverse mix of button-front shirts and pullover ones, and ones with belted trousers and beltless ones too. The designs also were quite awesome, and the stirrup length were, I feel, just the right way. :)

Football-wise, jerseys still had sleeves, and you also had some cool and colorful designs.


And in hockey, what can I say? So many colorful designs! I like the Kings and Canucks uniforms from that decade. :D

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I'll throw a little more reasoning in for mine -- the 2000s. Pro sports has always been pretty consistent, but college football has always been in the spotlight. This is not because it was the decade I grew up in (born in 90), but b/c we were entering the alternate uniform era but before teams started with all of the cookie-cutter, overnight ordering of grey jerseys and deciding to change in and out decals, facemasks, etc on a regular basis. It was also before Adidas looked like it was making uniforms with third-rate material. The 2000s were a time when not every team had alternate uniforms, but the ones that did usually put some thought into them.


Modern uniforms these days are hogwash. Modern uniforms in the early 2000s are modern classics to me. And -- I will get killed for this -- but stripes were the name of the game for decades. Piping was a big aesthetic change and looked great when done right.


We were at a moment in time when you could have a modern uniform AND an identity. 


Image result for miami hurricanes 2003


Image result for marcus vick virginia tech


Image result for hawaii football 2007









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Count me in as another 90's kid going with the 60's.


- Teams began experimenting with different color schemes, and RWB dominance began to be broken up.

- More expansion, relocation, and new/merged leagues added to the variety of identities, logo styles, and team colors.

- Despite all of this change, traditional and timeless elements of uniform design remained intact, with most teams still donning classy looks (even if wearing an untraditional color scheme) before the advent of trendier and less timeless ideas. 


All of these things brewed up a perfect storm. The 60's were a beautiful decade when it came to identities and aesthetics all across sports.



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Depends on sport.


NHL is 1980s, by a lot, for me.  


MLB is probably 1960s.


NFL is probably 1980s.


NBA is tricky...maybe 2000s.  


Edit:  I started a short-lived thread like this a few years ago...my MLB answers differ, though I don't think it is inconsistent since in the old thread I picked a specific year.


EDIT:  My abridged picks from that thread...


  • Major League Baseball
    • My Pick: 1993
    • Why: Because that is the first year that MLB was rid of powder blue and pullovers. It's not perfect; the Padres had ditched the Brown and the Reds, while finally dumping the 70s look, looked goofy with the front number on the wrong side of the road uniform. While alts were creeping in, they were not as over-used as today. .
  • NBA
    • My Pick: Late 1980s/early 90s:
    • Why: Tough call...the shorts were still too short but not as bad and it's before the trend of logos on the front (e.g., Houston). Miami, Charlotte, Orlando, and Minnesota were entering the league with nice uniforms overall (I like all but Orlando) and teams like the Lakers and Celtics still only had two jerseys.
  • NFL
    • My Pick: Mid/Late 1990s:
    • Why: When I look back at photos of the 1980s, the jerseys do look a bit like pop warner. In the mid-90s, they had a better fit, but still had sleeves and a decent palette for stripes and sleeve logos. Teams like the Bengals, Falcons, Cardinals, and Vikings still looked like they ought to. The Bengals once-risque helmet was a modern classic but nobody was trying to top it. We had several manufacturers yet they were not trying to "out-clown" each other. A few teams had taken bad steps (the Eagles), but the real craziness had not started.
  • NHL
    • My Pick: 1987-88:
    • Why: We still had the North Stars, Nordiques, Whalers, and original Jets. The Flames had yet to add black. The Devils still had a great, unique scheme. I picked it over any later years because the Kings were still in Forum Blue (purple?) and yellow. The 1980s iteration of that look, while very Flyers-like, was beautiful. We had 21 teams and almost all looked great. The only nitpicks are that the Caps logo was growing stale and the Blues had some red (which I hate for the Blues) but there is not a bad-looking team there. I suppose some will criticize the lack of non-horizontal stripes, but I love it. They all look like hockey teams should.


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A lot of it really does depend on the sport, and how design trends at the time lent themselves to the traditional aesthetic of the sport. For instance, I think the 1980s were an incredible time for hockey and football uniforms, given the bright colors and bold striping that were en vogue at the time. Meanwhile, it was an absolutely terrible era for baseball uniforms, what with pullovers, sansabelts, bold striping, way-too-high stirrups, and garish color uniforms that just did not look good on a ballfield. Brightly colored uniforms with big stripes are great in hockey and football; they're not so great in baseball.


The 1990s provide a stark contrast - it was a terrible era for uniforms in most sports, with garish, outlandish designs and logos, BFBS, and darkening of colors. But I think it was a great decade for baseball uniforms, since there was a trend within baseball toward 'retro' uniforms to match the 'retro' ballpark trend. Pullovers and sansabelts became things of the past, while traditional piping was restored to many uniforms. Every single team returned to traditional white and gray uniforms as their primaries. The trend toward darkening of colors actually helped in baseball, since the traditional baseball palette was based on darker colors like navy and black, and teams weren't going to wear those colors head-to-toe (unlike, say, red or orange).


By sport, I'd rank the decades as follows:


Baseball: 1960s, followed by 1950s, then 1990s 


Football: 1960s, followed by 1980s, then 1970s


Hockey: 1980s, followed by 1960s, then 1970s


Basketball: 1960s, followed by 1970s (related note: the ABA had some great uniforms)


Soccer: 1950s-60s (little change in uniform design over that period, followed by 1970s.


BTW, I grew up in the 90s and 2000s, and largely hate the design trends of that era. The garish, cartoonish logos of the 90s, BFBS, out-of-place piping (Bills, Falcons, Bettman stripes, etc.), and super baggy uniforms were all awful trends. You'll notice that the only time I even mentioned the 90's was in baseball, and it still paled in comparison to the 60's and 50's. And the saving grace for baseball in the 90s was a trend toward a retro aesthetic, calling back to... the 50s and 60s! 

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MLB:  Late 70s to late 80s.  Liked the pullover unis.

NFL:  Early to mid 70s especially when they add NOBs in the beginning.  Also liked the late 90s-early 2000s era pre-alternate jerseys.

NBA:  Late 90s to 2010.  Before Adidas ruin the unis with their Rev 30 material.  Otherwise the dri-fit jerseys were perfecto.

NHL:  The present.   Don't remember much about the 60s-80s era uniforms

NCAA:  The 80s through the mid 90s before Nike, Adidas, etc. put their brands on their jerseys, manufacturing companies like Champion made terrific uniforms and they were great looking jerseys.  Too bad we can never go back to that era.


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I am a person of the 1970s.  I am a big fan of almost everything about the 1970s (the music, the television, the hair); and I would say that football and basketball uniforms were at their heights at that point. 

But, unfortunately, baseball uniforms in general hit bottom in that decade. The pullover/beltless trend was a disaster, taking down with it venerable franchises such as the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, and Red Sox (the first two of which also employed the dreaded powder blue in place of grey on the road).  Nevertheless, there were a couple of teams who shone in that period.  The A's uniforms are one of my favourites of all time, despite the fact that they break so many of my "rules": pullover; beltless; coloured shirts; white pants on the road; and the Pirates never looked better than in their round-collared pullovers.

Conversely, in the 1990s, the uniforms of football and basketball were bottoming out, with football introducing all kinds silly striping and panels, following the bad example of the Broncos, and basketball uniforms becoming enamoured with blocky faux-3D graphics.  But baseball uniforms soared to their heights.  Buttons and belts came back; and even teams whose looks had been developed with pullovers enjoyed a brief flourish in the style of an actual baseball uniform.

Image result for blyleven anges   Image result for biggio 1993

The cleanness that is shown in those 1960s pictures returned, as the White Sox and Giants adopted sharp looks, joining the Braves, Phillies, and Reds in looks that would have been appropriate for any period since the 1940s.

Related image  Related image



Even teams that had long looked pretty damn goofy, the Indians and Rangers, were things of beauty in the 1990s.


Image result for albert belle 1995   Image result for texas rangers 1995


And most guys still knew how to wear their pants and socks, letting at least some of the stirrup show.

Related image  Image result for dave winfield 1993  Image result for jose rijo 1993



There were a few missteps in the 1990s.  Some teams went a little too far in cleaning up their uniforms: the A's current uniforms, introduced in 1987, are respectable and are not unattractive; but they don't really reflect the charm of a team that had had so many good looks.  The A's went through a look in the early 1980s that would have stood the test of time and really should have been the last word:

Image result for tony armas 1983 fleer  Related image



And some teams unwisely abandoned signature looks, as the Padres and Expos became unrecognisable.


Still, all things considered, the baseball universe never looked better than it did in the 1990s.

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