Third jerseys have made their way through sports. NCAA basketball and football, the NHL and most European soccer teams now have a third jersey that seems to break the rules or at least blur the lines between what should be a home jersey or an away jersey. In some cases, the third jersey is meant to fill in for either the home or away gear, but for other teams and leagues it can take center stage at home or on the road. The NHL will even go so far as to require alternate jerseys to be worn by all teams during certain stages of the season (of course, the NHL also flips the home and away jerseys throughout the year, as well).
Here are a few ways to approach the design of your team's third jerseys.
1. Use a neutral color
Basketball jerseys were making fashion statements long before other sports caught on. In the early 2000s, jet black was the go-to look for third jerseys.
In the next decade, cool grays and silvers caught on. Some schools that were already undergoing a rebrand included gray or black into their new palette specifically to keep doors open for future alternate jerseys. Arizona State University ensured their new color linked to the identity of the school: instead of gray, they had "anthracite," harking to the state's mining history.
Hues of black and gray are timeless, even if one is currently more popular than the other. They might not be the most trendy look, but they'll never be out of place.
A light gray can also seamlessly slot in as a home jersey by meeting league requirements for the home team to wear a lighter color jersey than the away team. Check your league's guidelines to ensure you don't need to wear white for your home games, and maybe your alternate jersey can have a few turns as your starter.
2. Swap out your logo for something similar, or something very different
Most hockey jerseys have the team's mascot on the front. Some NHL teams kept their color scheme the same but switched out the logo for their alternate jerseys.
The Boston Bruins replaced the iconic "B" with a bear in several iterations of their alternate jerseys. The Detroit Red Wings went in the opposite direction for one season, replacing their winged wheel logo with a simple "D."
Less simply and less iconic, the Anaheim Ducks spent one regrettable season with an angrily cartoonish duck on the front of their sweater, just in case anybody forgot that they are the only professional team named after a kids' team in a Disney movie.
The Colorado Avalanche had a third jersey that was an homage to Colorado's first professional hockey team, the Rockies (back before the Rockies were the baseball team). That uniform adapted the Rockies' logo for the prime real estate on the front of the sweater.
Look for opportunities to connect your school's history or your town to your alternate jersey. Even if you're the Skyhawks or Tigers, if your town has a prominent lighthouse or is famous for its railroad history, put the lighthouse or a locomotive on the jersey. Or go back-to-basics and make your alternate jersey a full throwback, or one that places your team's former logo onto a white or gray uniform.
Or, if your mascot is a very stylized character, simplify it down to its essence. Instead of Reggie the Bulldog, just show a bulldog. Give your fearsome Viking a few weeks off by replacing him with a V, a Viking ship or just the silhouette of a helmeted warrior.
3. Flip your color scheme
Your school's color palette probably has colors the team isn't using. Now is your chance to use them all. A simple way to do this is to switch your uniform's primary colors with your accent colors. If your uniforms are currently red and white with blue stripes, make your alternate jerseys a bold blue with red and white trim.
4. Go big, go loud, go bold
Two words: Oregon Ducks. Two more: Baylor Bears. Yes, some of their uniforms are over the top. Yes, we may look back on them with regret, like those Anaheim Ducks jerseys. But no one will ever walk past a game and not know whose playing.
Make your colors as bombastic as possible. Red becomes candy apple Corvette red. Green becomes metallic green. Your accent colors are so strong that they even accent the loudest uniforms in the conference.
And if your mascot has a distinctive color scheme, go all the way with it. If you're the Tigers, take your cue from Hull City FC in England make your jerseys and soccer socks orange-and-black striped. If your colors are normally staid and traditional, like royal blue and white, make your alternate jersey a bright gold or canary yellow: colors that complement your regular palette but have never been seen around your arena.
If you're unsure this is the direction you want to go in, give us a call or send us an e-mail and we'll walk you through the process. We've worked with hundreds of teams and have looked at thousands more uniforms, so we can tell you who else has done something similar and help you take the next step.