The women's football kits, they are coming! They will soon be in your homes, on your television screens, they are already in the windows of your large central London sports shops.
Regrettably, they remain pricey pieces of fine-fiber wicking polyester mesh, which is not a great look for a sport looking to broaden its appeal.
But as the kits for this World Cup have gradually been revealed we have witnessed two important things.
First is the novel idea that women's football kits should be cut to fit a woman's body, rather than forcing athletes to make do with stuff designed for a different gender.
This is both an encouraging break from depressing tradition and a great way to avoid the sorts of tent-like disasters which were familiar for players of Hope Powell's generation:
Second, we have new bespoke designs to enjoy for several teams. For the first time several manufacturers have created new kits for women's teams, rather than just snipping some of the middle out of their male equivalents.
Some are spectacular, others are... Well, let's find out.
It's time. It's time to rank every kit at the Women's World Cup.
Let's begin, as is tradition, with the worst in show:
47. Jamaica away
Come on now, Umbro. Delighted you’re experimenting, trying some new things, taking some risks but… Come on now. I’ve got some time for the boldness and novelty here, but I can’t in good conscience condone it. Yellow shorts like a clash-avoiding emergency forced upon the team by a forgetful kit manager. Shirt pattern like a very rough draft in felt tip by MC Escher. All together - a right old state. Yuck out of 10.
(A note on numbers: There are 24 teams at this World Cup, you would be reasonable to expect a home and away kit for each. But there are only 47 kits on show this year. One country has let us down. More later)
46. Canada away
You’ll win no hearts, no minds and no friends whatsoever on your summer holiday to France with an all-white boredom uniform
45. Australia home
A terrible mistake. A reckless pattern smeared on a wall by a toddler of thoroughly ordinary intelligence. A sense it would be worn by the loudest and worst rep in charge of your regrettable teenage package holiday. Socks the final insult. Did Pugwall die for this?
44. Spain away
Tedious, Spain. Inexcusably tedious. The nation of patatas bravas, large featureless town squares and two football teams winning everything year after year deserves better than this. Actually, all those things are also quite boring. Carry on!
43. Australia away
This time last year this kit didn’t look like a classic when unveiled for the Aussie men at their World Cup. Breaking news: it is still not a classic. In fact, it already looks slightly dated. Coming soon to a very cheap auction on www.eBay.au.look.mate.look
42. South Korea home
Here’s Jang Sel-gi preparing to kick a football in what, to the untrained eye, looks a lot like a real-life stadium. What Jang’s not telling you is this moment was almost certainly staged in a brutally lit studio, designed to exact maximum excitement from what looks like a routine pass. For more fans of unexciting things: how about this kit? No distinguishing remarks. Same as the men's, too. Boooo.
41. Cameroon home
Cutting it fine, Cameroon only revealed this would be their home shirt a few days before the tournament began. That’s a crazy modern twist on the Le Coq Sportif emblem in the middle, so direct your complaints to them for the three lions upstairs. One is more than enough unless you’re England. Shape suggests it’s more nightie than football shirt. No away kit revealed yet, although given Cameroon are in Group E with Netherlands (orange home, light blue away), New Zealand (white, black) and Canada (red, white) they may not need one. Especially given you can get 80/1 on them winning the group.
40. Argentina home
While we're in the bedwear section... Apologetically pale blue on stripes that could be a waveform of a commentator saying "gol" for ages and ages. Assuming the shorts and socks are the same as the men’s kit (the shirt is) we’ve left traditional black shorts behind for dark blue, with white socks. Not a convincing effort.
39. Japan away
Oh hi, I'm Japan away! You might remember me from such football tournaments as the 2018 World Cup. You probably don't, though, as I'm not very interesting.
38. Italy away
White. Flag. Blue bit. That’ll do.
37. United States away
The grand dames of the World Cup, three time winners, significant star power, the team to beat. So a bit of a swizz that there’s no bespoke design for this year’s USWNT away kit. Tobin Heath to the right here is wearing the same slightly too-brash red of her male counterparts. Shades of imperial phase America, the confident early Clinton years. Not the (ADJECTIVES REDACTED TO PREVENT DIPLOMATIC INCIDENT) current version. A kit out of time.
36. South Africa away
"Hello, welcome to Saffas, the Clean Eating deli, cafe, shop and cult. How can I help you? I'm sorry, did I say cult? Hahahaha! What an unfortunate mistake! Hahahaha!"
35. Canada home
Houston Dash midfielder Sophie Schmidt here, proving that no matter whether your hair is blonde or pink it’s still going to be more interesting than this limp Nike kit. Rarely has red looked more dead.
34. South Africa home
Been looking at this for five minutes and I can’t fathom how something so bright and contrasting can also be so dull. Shirt is nice enough, although too many logos at the top and a bit too similar to Australia's last year but... Wait. What’s that I hear? Is it? No. It can't be!
I thought we had destroyed them all?
It is a vuvuzela.
Please. I beg you. I’ll bump you up to 32nd. Anything! Nooooo!
33. Spain home
Adidas has been riffing on the patterns you on the left-hand side here with their men’s Spain shirts for a few years. The idea is wearing a bit thin now. What the women are left with is faded and vague, like a fourth-generation videotape. Disappointing.
32. Sweden home
Something’s off here. Centred emblems are a phenomenon of the mid 90s best left there, like Kula Shaker. Annoyingly asymmetrical lines either side look like LCD evidence of an erratic workout on an elliptical trainer. Miffed-looking model on the right says 1,000 appropriate words.
31. New Zealand home
Tidy. Elegant. Heartbreakingly easy to leak afternoon-ruining mustard down the front of, if wearing to a barbecue. Proceed with caution.
30. Netherlands away
Tell you what I fancy: a headache. Cheers, Nike!
29. Scotland away
Deeply dimply, the pattern of Adida's Tiro 19 template which is all over this tournament. Anyone drawing conclusions about the colour pink appearing in a women’s football tournament: settle down, this is available in a men’s cut as well, and flying off the shelves by all accounts. Could prove so popular that it's adopted by the men, which would be a first. A bit too templated for my tastes, though.
28. Italy home
Back on the world stage after last year’s inexcusable absence from the men’s tournament. Have not brought their kit A-game with them. Far prefer Italy with clean white shorts to break up the blue, and not sure the shade here is quite right either. Slow handclap too, for Puma, who have... re-heated their men's designs.
27. Argentina away
A theme developing here. This is the same as the 2018 men’s kit. If you’re not going to try, Adidas, neither am I.
26. England home
The first ever bespoke England women’s home kit takes few risks other than with its choice of shorts. Gnash your teeth and fill your mouth with wailing sounds now if you find anything other than navy shorts on an England kit is a massive disgrace. Then have a stern word with yourself. Happy it’s here, but doesn’t leave much of an impression.
25. South Korea away
Another run for this one, worn without much distinction by the men in last year’s tournament, and here by West Ham midfielder Cho So-hyun. Then, as now, the front pattern is indebted to the taeguk, the yin and yang symbol that’s on the country’s flag. Then, as now, it looks like the logo on the side of a van that’s outside your house on the day your shower stops working, at tremendous financial and emotional cost.
24. Germany away
More of the Tiro 19 template for a change, for Germany's change. No shorts publicly available for this as yet. Assume the players won’t be wearing the pictured tracksuit bottoms and world class side-eye demonstrated above. More’s the pity.
23. Nigeria away
Muted, classy, par. The exact mid-point of this year's kits. That's worth a trophy in some footballing cultures. Perhaps there will be a star on the next Nigeria shirt?
22. Thailand away
Well hello, Warrix! Now an upstart Thai kit manufacturer, no longer just a boring place to go to university. An attempt at soulfulness with its deep red shades and gritty textures, but I’m also getting a strong ‘inefficient beach towel’ vibe. Let’s talk also about that emblem. What am I looking at here? Elephant falling over? Pub quiz map round? Aborted Pepsi rebrand? A veritable Rorschach test of possibilities.
21. Chile home
This has been knocking about for Chile’s men's and women’s side since last year, but because of the continuing erasure of the footballer formerly known as Alexis Sanchez this will be its first appearance on the world stage. Shorts are “gym blue”, says Nike, and the font for the players names and numbers mirror that used on Santiago street signs and the country’s number plates. Maria Jose Rosas (on the right) celebrates such design thoughtfulness. A bit route one overall, but directness works in its favour given the strength of the colours.
20. China home
Ostensibly not much to write home about, but there’s something attractive going on here. Unusual shades of red and yellow, both flirting with orange. Pleasing feeling of a 1980s sunset. Now familiar sleeve nonsense courtesy of Nike’s Vapor Knit II template.
19. Scotland home
Tidy. Rounds out a pointy collar on the similar men’s version, and loses the superfluous three stripes down the torso. Both those changes improve it. Shrunken-looking sleeves give the impression of a knackered old t-shirt, like Renton's nightclub outfit from Trainspotting. Nevertheless, decent.
18. United States home
What do you get the woman who has everything? What about an item of clothing with the word “Delaware” printed in type so small no-one can read it? That’s what’s on offer here, with every American state sublimated on the back. Appropriately for an era in which the only films are superhero films, this looks straight out of the wardrobe of a Marvel character, from the cartoonish crest down to the stars on the side of the shorts. Fun!
17. France home
Hard to dislike, but too restrained to feel head over heels in love with too. A steady, dependable relationship of a football kit. Bronze/rose (let’s face it: pink) emblem and swoosh is a bit cute, but in the negative way, like Steve McManaman criticising a misplaced pass that was too clever for its own good. But all hangs together with undeniable elan.
16. Nigeria home
My views on this kit resulted in a 2/10 Beaufort internet hate-gale this time last year. In summary: I wasn’t massively into it, many other people were, and were not shy about telling me. I’ve softened a little since. Undoubtedly memorable. Will be even more so if the Super Falcons can do some thrilling things in this tournament, otherwise it’s destined to be recalled more for how silly it looked on some of the people who bought it in East London.
15. Sweden away
You can’t go enormously wrong with tidy navy and bright yellow, at least not in my book. The title of my book is “I like navy and yellow together”. Kit-wearer to the right is deeply unimpressed by the use of Adidas’s Tiro 19 patterning, so much so that’s she’s covering some of it up in protest. Overall, though, it's a clear winner.
14. Brazil home
Bespoke, but not doing a lot with it. That's for the best. You’re actually not allowed to mess around with the home kits for the Brazilian football team. Anyone that does faces a lifetime ban from colouring pencils and immediate confiscation of all their samba CDs. Tough, but fair.
13. England away
Floral patterns galore, but less Laura Ashley, more Love Island hardman sleeve tattoo. You could argue that we’re getting into questionable areas with designs like these, too ornate, too specific. It’s easy to dismiss those when you remember this kit will, of course, simply appear on television as “red”. The FA says otherwise claiming it is “rendered in a dark red crush, a unique darker shade exclusively for the women’s team”. Exclusively for the women’s team is it, FA? What do you call this then?
Sue us. (Please don’t)
12. Thailand home
Team Warrix returns with this classy number, subtle lighter flecks punctuating a pleasing navy while owing something to last year’s superb Japan home shirt. Dash of red around the neck sets it off well. A team wearing this could talk me into a deep run in the competition. Come on Thailand, don’t let me down. What do you mean you’re 2,000/1?!
11. Japan home
Oh look, it’s last year’s superb Japan shirt! At this point I must make a disclosure: I like this one so much I bought it. Novel, stylish, somewhat offbeat, bonus flag above the emblem. (The shirt, not me) Nothing whatsoever to complain about. But I’m demoting it a mandatory five places here because it’s the same as the men’s.
10. Jamaica home
Here we go! A wonderful riff of one of the all-time great national flags. Riotous yellow, fearsome green, well-judged black shorts. The thick, consistent trim is highly pleasing. Unforgettable.
9. Norway away
Something slightly old-fashioned about this, in the era of intricate geometric patterns and colours blending seamlessly together, but that’s an asset. Vibe like a weekend on Cape Cod with people who describe themselves as ‘preppy’ who turn out to be 'awful'. Unlike lovely Norway.
8. China away
The trouble with putting c.50 kits into order every year is that you end up making sweeping statements which don’t really hold up. I’m fairly sure I’ve written previously that grey and orange should be permanently cancelled as a colour combination for football kits. No no now, don’t try to remember what that statement was! Then something like this China away kit comes along and obliterates all your silly pronouncements. Very cool.
7. Netherlands home
Waves! Sunshine! Cheap ice lollies! Best summer ever. Female lion on the crest too, apparently, but if you can spot much of a difference between the men’s and women’s version you were probably much better than me at spot the difference, and, therefore, a pretty powerful influencer at your playgroup.
6. New Zealand away
Football upstages rugby in more or less every category. More people like it, our penalties are superior to theirs, lager tastes nicer than bitter. One place where rugby has always had the upper hand is in the all-black kits stakes. Fair play, rugby - you have owned that space. Until now. There’s no classier adornment in this year’s collection of shirts than the silver ferns on the Football Fern’s sleeves. The overall effect is serious but distinctive. Great work.
5. Norway home
Clever, varying pattern, differing shapes working together to form new ones as they tessellate and blend. Fade into short is a treat. More subtle fun on the socks. We may have to think of some chants for them, because Norway's kits at this World Cup make their team worth supporting. I'll open the bidding with a version of the Vanilla classic: "Nor-way, Nor-way / Manamana"
4. Chile away
Pow! What a delight. A happy slap of France-based football-summer colours and patterns that came to party. Look at this kit, put on the gorgeous synthpop of the same country’s Javiera Mena and tell me you don’t want to visit Chile.
No need for a tourist board in the modern world, let excellent kits do all your heavy lifting.
3. Brazil away
Fabulous. Bright, creative, unusual pattern. Makes me want to buy a Spirograph.
2. Germany home
The theme of this World Cup's second-best shirt is 'horizontal Tetris'. As they say auf Deutschland: Sehr tasty. Bayern Munich midfielder Melanie Leupolz has honour of wearing this one, although fairly sure there are more striking places for a kit photoshoot than the changing room of a dilapidated gym. In fairness, this kit requires nothing other than itself to appeal.
1. France away
Polkadots! Why has it taken this long? So wonderful in this context that the international association of kits need to launch a root and branch review immediately about why it hasn’t happened sooner. The socks! J’adore les chausettes! Merci, merci Nike! Gracias. Ciao. On closer inspection (holding it very close to my face in a shop and getting some weird looks in the process) the dots are actually tiny hexagons which is somehow even cooler. Number one and it’s not even close. Lyon’s Amandine Henry celebrates the news to the left. Felicitations to all involved.