Jersey (clothing)

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Single jersey front side under microscope
Single jersey back side under microscope

A jersey is an item of knitted clothing. Its name comes from the island of Jersey, where they were made, traditionally in wool or cotton, with sleeves, worn as a sweater or pullover, as it does not open at the front, unlike a cardigan. It is usually close-fitting and machine knitted in contrast to a guernsey that is more often hand knit with a thicker yarn. The word is usually used interchangeably with sweater and is the name always officially used in the United Kingdom to refer to the item when worn as part of the uniform of military, police or other uniformed personnel.

History[change | change source]

Jersey, in the Channel Islands, was famous for its knitting trade in medieval times, and because of that original fame, the name jersey is still applied to many forms of knitted fabric, round or flat. The traditional jersey, and traditional guernsey, are dyed a navy blue colour, using a dye that does not require stripping the wool of its natural oil, rendering these sweaters surprisingly water resistant. The wool used in guernseys is often passed through oil in order to render it doubly water-resistant.

In sports[change | change source]

In sport a jersey is a shirt worn by a member of a team, often with the wearer's name and team number as well. Many Cycling jerseys of specific colour or pattern represent certain statuses in cycling, such as the maillot jaune (yellow jersey) of the leader of the Tour de France, or the rainbow jersey. The World Cycling Union also says a champion must wear the champions jersey in a race, not the team jersey. Cycling jerseys are usually made of special synthetic material to help sweat away from the skin. The main garment of an ice hockey uniform, which was traditionally called a sweater, is increasingly known as a hockey jersey. This garment, along with basketball jerseys which are usually sleeveless and baseball jerseys which are usually button up, have become fashion accessories.

In some sports, such as baseball, basketball, and American football, a player's jersey may be "retired". When a jersey is retired that player's jersey is placed usually where the team plays in honour of that player's accomplishment. The retiring of a jersey at one time included the retiring of the number on the player's jersey leaving it unavailable for future players, to further honour that player. However as jerseys are usually double digit (00-99), that leaves only 100 possible numbers—if the rules of the sport allow it. For example, in U.S. college basketball, only 36 distinct numbers are possible, as rules prohibit the use of any digits greater than 5. As such the practice of retiring the number has dwindled, and in most cases only the specific jersey is retired and put on display.

Other[change | change source]

It was common for Australian and South African year 12 students and year 13 students in New Zealand to receive personalised jerseys during their last year at school. These are commonly referred to as a year or leavers' jumpers. They are based on the design of a sport jersey (usually Australian Rules Football or Association Football), feature school colours, the year the students graduate, and a personalised nickname. They are usually worn over the normal school uniform.

In Australia there has been a recent trend with many students now preferring to get year 12 hoodies, jackets or baseball varsity style jackets instead of the traditional jerseys.