Gareth Southgate: I’m ditching my suit to create a more relaxed mood for young players at Euros

BankingMay 30, 2024 /idopress/

Southgate in a Loro Piana buttoned sweater

Credit: Niall Hodson

Gareth Southgate has said he is swapping formal attire for cardigans to create a more “relaxed” mood for the England squad at this summer’s Euros.

The manager said his outfits will be “more short-sleeved knits than suit and tie” in an interview with British GQ.

The 53-year-old’s clothing became a focal point during the 2018 World Cup when he sported a waistcoat throughout the tournament,inspiring fans across the nation to copy him. 

Marks & Spencer reported a 35 per cent surge in demand for waistcoats in what they called the “Southgate effect”.

Speaking to GQ’s Match Fits column,chronicling football’s most fashionable figures,Southgate said: “Whenever you put something on,you’re making some sort of a statement,aren’t you? I am conscious of that now.”

He added: “This year,it will be more short-sleeved knits than a suit and tie,because we’re trying to create a relaxed environment.

“When you’re working with young lads,you don’t want to be too stiff – in what you’re doing or wearing.”

The manager said his outfits will be 'more short-sleeved knits than suit and tie'

Credit: GQ

Speaking more about his look during the Euros,Southgate said he intends to have a fresh haircut for the tournament.

“I’ll have one more cut before we go,I think,because my hair gets a little bit curly,which I don’t like,” he said. “Plus my wife says I haven’t got the features to have it really short.”

Southgate is pictured wearing a beige Loro Piana buttoned sweater in the interview for the magazine.

The England manager said he would be wearing similar knitted garments during the tournament.

He appears to be tapping into the current trend of knitted tank tops and cable knit sweaters.

The England squad,which has an average age of 26,will play its first match against Serbia on June 16.

Speaking further about his coaching philosophy,he said: “My mindset is I want to master the profession I’ve chosen. As a 33-year-old player,coming towards the end with England,I was still learning new ideas even though I played at the very highest level. It’s the same as a coach – you are always learning your trade.”

He added: “Then there’s the [fact] the world is changing so quickly with technology. There are new jobs that weren’t in existence five years ago,so you have to keep pace with all of that change.”

Southgate,who made more than 500 appearances during his time with Crystal Palace,Aston Villa and Middlesbrough,said his career was marked by “harsh” and “very critical” coaching. He made his debut appearance for Crystal Palace in 1990 under the management of Steve Coppell.

Southgate made M&S's sleek waistcoat so iconic in 2018 that a nationwide Waistcoat Wednesday was declared to celebrate this new symbol of England's success

Credit: TF-Images

Despite admitting this style of management had made him robust,he said he prefers a softer touch.

Southgate said: “When we were growing up,we were bullied,really. Maybe that’s too harsh,but the coaches were very critical. That gave me a real toughness that has helped in my life,but there’s a flip side to that,where you don’t feel the freedom to play. As soon as you made a mistake,boom,it was highlighted.”

Southgate famously missed the crucial penalty in the semi-final of Euro 96. He was heavily criticised for the miss which resulted in Germany beating England at Wembley.

The new look Southgate favours sporty but smart polo knits over shirts and ties - prepare to see more of this look during the 2024 Euros

Credit: Maja Hitij

He added: “Now we highlight the things that go wrong more when we win than when we lose. And when we lose,you’d be picking out the positives a little bit more.”

The England team will be wearing Marks & Spencer formalwear off the field at the tournament this summer.

Last week Marcus Rashford was pictured modelling the collection alongside Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher. But despite being part of the trio modelling the range,Rashford was not selected for the 33-man squad.

Southgate has previously weighed in on the controversial England kit redesign in which the cross on the back of the collar was altered to a multi-coloured design.

He said the Nike shirt with purple and blue horizontal stripes could not be described as a St George’s Cross because it is not red and white.

The sports brand was accused of “toying” with the country’s heritage,with Rishi Sunak saying the national flag should “not be messed with”.

Should we prepare ourselves for Snuggly Saturday?

By Bethan Holt

Have you pepped up your tie collection with a knitted number in the past few years? Or have you considered adding a waistcoat to sleeken up your suit? If the answer’s yes then Gareth Southgate is the man to thank. Not content with leading the England team to some of its biggest football success in recent history,its manager has also become an accidental style icon.

The brilliance of Southgate is that he wears his fashion leader status lightly. Sure,he might be responsible for elevating waistcoat searches by 292 per cent and bumping up M&S sales by 35 per cent in July 2018 when England reached the World Cup semi-finals,but he was always more interested in discussing tactics and his admiration for his players than his sartorial choices. 

Waistcoat mania was perhaps unnerving for him - after all it reached such levels that a Waistcoat Wednesday was declared to celebrate the new symbol of the Lions’ success and the Museum of London and the National Football Museum in Manchester requested versions of M&S’s design for their archives. It was a viral run which saw his reputation as one of the world’s best-dressed football managers cemented.

Southgate knows it's the small details which make him one of the world's best-dressed football managers,like when he swapped a traditional tie for a slim,knitted style

Credit: Shaun Botterill - UEFA

Southgate shocked the nation in 2021 when he declared that he’d be moving on from the garment with which he had become synonymous. “It was a lovely moment to have that connection with the public,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme,“ but I don’t think I’ll be wearing a waistcoat this summer.”

With the cool confidence of a man who can read the fashion landscape as astutely as the opposition’s game plan,the manager switched to a more conventional look for the Euros,sporting a classic navy suit and white shirt but adding his own twist via a knitted tie from Percival,an east London label which specialises in relatively affordable modern British menswear. You can still buy Southgate’s signature polka dot tie for £39. The look was hailed as an inspiration for men who had forgotten how to look smart after a year of Covid lockdowns.

In 2019,Southgate refreshed the v-neck knit over shirt and tie look previously considered a bit 'Golf Club luncheon' and gave it new cool appeal

Credit: TF-Images

Unlike other football-style muses,like David Beckham,there’s still something charmingly imperfect about Southgate’s approach,like the tan brogues he’s often worn to big industry red carpet events which can turn his look into regional estate agent territory (it’s sometimes safer to stick to the ‘no brown in town’ adage) and often he looks at his most comfortable in joggers and official T-shirts at the training ground.

But Southgate has his finger on the menswear pulse and has been sporting a more smart-casual vibe from the benches in recent years. The tailored and buttoned-up look – which always exuded discipline and authority – have been swapped for more relaxed but nevertheless polished knitwear. Southgate tells GQ that this switch in style reflects his coaching approach. “When you’re working with young lads,you don’t want to be too stiff – in what you’re doing or wearing,” he tells the magazine.

But as ever,it’s a template which will work well for any British everyman. At the World Cup in 2022,Southgate teamed polo knits with blazers but we’ve seen him ditch the jacket too. One notable side effect of his new penchant for fine knits is that they do an excellent job of showing off his trim and toned figure.

 As for whether he’ll persuade the nation into cosy cream cardigans like the one he models in GQs shoot (by ultra-luxe label Loro Piana,no less – long gone are the M&S days),that remains to be seen but perhaps we should prepare ourselves for Snuggly Saturday?

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