Football - the beautiful game. Except sometimes, decisions made both on and off the pitch aren't so beautiful, not least when they pertain to fashion choices made.
Gone are the days where Posh's short shorts at Baden Baden would take up fashion writers' thinking spaces: now we want to know if Cristiano Ronaldo gets his eyebrows threaded or waxed, and how best to avoid the shop selling Rio Ferdinand's blindingly shiny studio trousers. In other words, only the most important questions
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Ahead of Sunday night's final, we look to noteworthy style choices made over the course of the last three weeks to create our ultimate sartorial sweep stake.
A fiercely contested category. First prize must go to Brazil's David Luiz. Much has been made of Luiz' similarities to The Simpsons' Sideshow Bob, but has anyone wondered what is hiding in such voluminous curls? The answer is secrets. Secrets of how he's been able to get away with repeatedly elbowing other players in the coupon without punishment throughout the tournament. Secrets of exactly how he was handed captaincy of Brazil during the semi-final match yet played like he had his boots coated in butter. Butter churned by the ghost of better games past.
An honourable mention should surely go to Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa, who has displayed a keen passion and commitment to accessorising over the course of the tournament. This a man who understands the importance of an Alice band.
Best top half
Thierry Henry clears the board here, competing against himself with two seminal outfits. The first, that cardigan, has elicited widespread get-the-look articles in publications up and down the land. Not so here. Not even the geography teachers from whom the look originated are wearing geography teachers' cardigans any more.
They have long moved on to the strap-on beard / lumberjack shirt combination. It's not important that this cardigan is from Gucci and cost £505. Bite your fist with a silent scream and get on with it. There is a wider message to focus upon: what Henry is saying with his geography teacher-rejected cardigan is just to wear whatever the hell you want. Be yourself. Unless you can be Thierry Henry. In which case, always be Thierry Henry.
The second outfit admittedly necessitates a bottom half option to complete the look but bear with me. Is it a double denim disaster or just an item consigned by Shiteshirts to the Too Shite bin? In fact, what it is, is so much more than that. It is a faded Canadian tuxedo, left out to bake in the cruel Ontario winter sun. A look that cc's Bruce Springsteen circa Born in the USA.
On a fashion level, it works because the tonalities of the component parts of the outfit are the same. And on every other level it works because Thierry Henry is inside it.
Best bottom half
A relatively new addition to the football lexicon is the starting point for bottom half inspiration. Like a depraved game of Where's Wally, the 'honey shot' references in its creepily saccharine wording the act of a camera-person seeking out and zooming in on an attractive woman wearing skimpy clothes in the crowd. I use the term camera-person because presuming it's a sweaty-palmed man behind the lens would be a bit unfair, right?
Defenders of the honey shot have said that if the 'honeys' are arriving to the stadium scantily clad then it is fair game to zoom in on them and make observations about their outfits in 'gentlemen's club' type remarks. Rather than dress for the sweltering temperatures inside the Brazilian stadiums, which can reach the mid-thirties, these women should clearly borrow Thierry's cardigan if they want to enjoy the game in peace.
Annoyingly, I seem to have missed the games where the camera-person zoomed in on the 'honeys' with shaved heads, or those over a size 16, despite the fact that I watched every one. But I appreciate the approach one lady took to displaying her national pride and was glad it was caught on camera, despite the fact she pertains to the description of 'hot woman' that is probably typed up in Comis Sans and circulated to camera-people as a reminder before each game.
This fan's swapping of a pair of trousers for the Colombian flag shows that it's not just Becks that can wear a piece of material as a skirt in order to keep cool (who can forget the ill-advised sarong?) and look pretty great, although it's tiresome that wearing weather- and circumstance-appropriate gear is still deemed ogle-worthy. The flag pictured is probably nothing more than charred embers lying in a Rio gutter right now, but that's another point entirely.
Before I explore the subtleties of football boots, a note. The mantra What Would Jesus Do entered popular culture during the 90s as a self-asking question to keep Christians on the right path. When making sartorial choices throughout the World Cup, consider replacing Jesus' name with Italy's Mario Balotelli's. Instead of feeding the five thousand, we instead have a man who once enacted a mock sword fight with rolling pins in a Manchester curry house. One raised a man from the dead, the other caught fire to bathroom towels trying to set off fireworks from the WC.
On Puma's odd boots, as worn by myriad players, Balotelli said: "I have to be honest, the first time I saw the Tricks boots, I thought the Puma guy was mad". Let's all take a quiet moment to dwell on Mr Balotelli suggesting mental instability of anyone other than himself before asking: WWMBD?
The answer is that despite his initial trepidation, Balotelli ended up as the poster boy for the pink and blue boots which rendered his feet as gender-specific as the aisles of Toys 'R'Us. Expect Topman and Burtons to soon be flooded with archly mismatching office brogues as modelled by professional Dean Gaffney lookalike David Gandy shortly.