Ranking the most stylish new jerseys

The 2023 season of the National Women’s Soccer League just kicked off over the weekend, and now it’s already time to crown the winners — well, the style winners, that is.

All 12 of the league’s teams have released at least one new kit for this season, with some clubs launching brand new home strips, others announcing away shirts and in a few cases one of each. This time around, the creative inspiration necessary to drum up designs for the new NWSL kits has been derived from a wide array of sources — from space travel, to defunct gasworks, to truly questionable body art.

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Without further ado, please allow us to furnish you with a definitive power ranking of all of the new jerseys to be worn by the dozen NWSL teams competing in the 2023 campaign.

We could try to be polite and commend the Thorns for being brave enough to attempt something a little unorthodox with their new away kit. Instead, let’s be honest: this is comfortably one of the worst football shirts we’ve ever laid our poor, unfortunate eyes upon.

Intended to symbolise the deep connection between the team and their supporters, the jersey is covered across the chest and shoulders in crude “tattoos” of roses and thorns. It’s ugly with a capital U-G-L-Y.

Kept off the bottom of the pile only by virtue of being exceptionally bland rather than outright repulsive, the new Courage jersey is the very plainest of plain white tees.

There is absolutely nothing else to it, making this a truly unremarkable kit.

Dubbed the “Ice Kit,” the Current’s new secondary kit has a watery feel befitting a club that takes its name from the Missouri River. The jersey is yet another all-white design accented only by crests, logos and badges, though the accompanying shorts and socks are a little more eye-catching thanks to their bright, icy blue colourway.

Nothing revolutionary here, but at least the theme is on point.

Wave FC’s second season in existence appears to have begun at a low ebb with the nascent franchise washing ashore with a very plain dark blue effort. Thankfully the dull, template-style design does at least feature a faint “ripple” graphic woven into the fabric as a nod to the club’s marine moniker.

Amazingly, the away kit is even more plain, with a near-featureless white template shirt bearing nothing but the crest, manufacturer’s marque and sponsor.

Dubbed the “La Estrella” kit, the latest Dash jersey is the very brightest of bright oranges with a shiny gradient design helping the fabric to flicker and radiate like a solar flare.

It might not be the most memorable kit in this season’s parade but if nothing else, Houston will certainly struggle to hide when they take to the field while wearing it.

After a decade in red, white and blue, the Spirit have exchanged their patriotic colours for a sleek black uniform that is lifted above the ordinary only by its revamped, chrome effect crest — designed to shimmer and shine as players move underneath the floodlights. On closer inspection, the jersey is also covered in a subtle all-over web graphic.

The Spirit have also bucked a league-wide trend by simultaneously releasing a new away kit for the 2023 campaign, but the white shirt is so utterly featureless that it’s barely worth mentioning.

Replacing the old diagonal sash is a radical redesign that sees Gotham’s moody navy shirts enlivened with crackling stripes of pale blue lightning.

With a new coach on board in Juan Carlos Amoros, Gotham are hoping for a fresh start after finishing at the bottom of the NWSL pile last season. At the very least, they now have the perfect kit for it.

The 2023 Racing home kit is presented as a celebration of pioneering women in sport and specifically Penny Chenery, who owned legendary racehorse and Kentucky Derby winner Secretariat.

The lavender jersey features a dark blue houndstooth check all over and is complimented by a white and mint green crest, lending it a smart and very “business casual” vibe.

With unlikely inspiration sourced from Seattle’s local gasworks, the Reign’s 2023 alternate offering features a patchwork of hatched tiles in various blue hues complemented by contrasting red trim on the collar and cuffs.

The pattern is said to mimic the architecture of the old/defunct gasification plants that can still be found on the north shore of Lake Union in the heart of the city. The final product looks sharp.

Angel City’s secondary kit goes under the fitting moniker “Represent” and features a large map of the entire greater Los Angeles area and coastline, wrapping around the front and back of the shirt.

The replica strip also comes with one of 11 different bespoke jock tags, all individually designed by a raft of artists — including Angel City shareholder Gabrielle Union — and intended to represent a different area, neighbourhood or cultural aspect of the city. The finer details make this one.

The Red Stars’ new “Foundation” kit sees the team swap their customary red and white livery for a blacked-out jersey that dares to ask the important question: “How many stars is too many stars?”

Festooned with a tessellating silver star-shaped pattern and overlaid with the four red stars of the club crest stamped defiantly across the midriff, the conclusive answer to the conundrum would appear to be “you can never have too many stars.” Lovely stuff.

Paired with their NASA tribute away kit, the Pride’s latest home strip is a love letter to Florida landscape painter Mary Ann Carroll. She was originally the only female member of the “Highwaymen” — a 26-person collective of African American travelling landscape artists who found fame in the 1950s and ’60s.

As such, the luscious purple shirt is daubed with a brushstroke effect as a nod to Carroll’s work, and it makes for a standout kit this season.