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Wimbledon whites and other sports sock rules


What many consider to be the world’s premier tennis tournament is about to take hold, and there’s one tradition in particular that sticks in our mind when it comes to Wimbledon... Apart from the strawberries and cream of course!

A long-time custom of the tournament requires players to wear all white (or at least almost all white) clothing... even down to their socks, which got us thinking – which other sports and sporting events have special rules for socks?
Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Wimbledon whites

Often to the aggravation of its participants, Wimbledon’s all white ensemble rules extend  to pretty much all items of clothing, including tennis socks (which must be predominantly white)... Even underwear has been called into question in the past! White clothing with colour accents such as small logos (like the notorious tick found on Nike socks) is generally accepted, so long as the colour scheme is not identifiable to a particular commercial brand logo.

Specifics of the tournament’s rules on clothing colours include:

  • No fluorescents
  • Little or no dark/bold colours
  • Preferably pastel colours
  • Preference for the back of the shirt to be completely white
  • Preference for shorts and skirts to be completely white
In recent years many players and pundits have claimed the strictness of the rule has gotten out of hand but, hey... tradition is tradition.
Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

FIFA’s rule on sock tape

Among the standard laws of the game, stances on goal line technology etc, and FIFA’s official guidelines on clothing and equipment, sit the international governing body of football’s more pernickety rules. Stockings and shin guards are a requirement for players, but more recently FIFA specified that sock tape – used to help keep protective shin pads in place during play – must be the same colour as the player’s socks... exactly the same colour.

Sourcing tape can prove quite a task for kit men, even at the highest levels of the game, whose teams have several kits with varying colour schemes.

The rule came into place to help assistant referees looking across the offside lines distinguish between teams, after some players’ overuse of tape on football socks began to make it difficult to see their actual colour.

Sock length for golf shorts

Known for its traditions, golf is one sport with a reputation for strict dress codes from the course to the clubhouse. There are the usuals – shirts must have a collar, must be tucked in, shorts must be tailored etc. but, while things have become much more relaxed over time, some golf clubs still hold traditionally strict rules for dress... Especially when it comes to socks.

At one time if a player wore shorts on the golf course, they were expected to wear knee high socks to match. Nowadays, though many clubs allow tailored shorts to be worn with trainer socks, some clubs still insist upon ankle high, or even knee length socks sometimes specifying white in colour too.

Golf Socks

Baseball stirrups

A more traditional piece of baseball clothing (so named because they have a stirrup loop which hooks around the ankle rather than a full foot like a normal sock), players traditionally wore stirrup socks with their knickerbockers to display team colours. Some teams like the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox famously took their names from the colour of the stirrup socks worn with their uniforms.

Though some teams still wear them, traditional stirrup socks have become less common over the years, with players simply wearing full length trousers or, in some cases, mimicking the traditional style with a full knee sock and knickerbockers. 

While there is no specific mention of stirrups in The Official Baseball Rules, all players on a team are required to “wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style”.

Baseball socks
Image from 

Have you ever been in trouble for not following a sports dress code? Are there any clothing rules in sports which you find particularly odd? Let us know in the comments below.

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