Michael Jordan’s Famously Bad Fashion Choices Stemmed From His Surprising Self-Consciousness

Whether you love sports or completely ignore the NBA, just about everyone knows Michael Jordan. During his time on the hardwood, His Airness found incredible success and grew into a living legend. That, in turn, helped him become push beyond basketball and become a true global celebrity. If anyone has the right to be confident in his own skills, it’s MJ.

Behind the scenes, however, the former Chicago Bulls star is still a human being; that means that even Air Jordan himself can be a bit self-conscious. In fact, those inner doubts led to his iconic — and sometimes questionable — style choices.

Michael Jordan is a success, both on and off the basketball court

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No matter their field, someone who finds great success can be labeled the Michael Jordan of whatever they’re doing. On the whole, that makes perfect sense. While His Airness made his name on the basketball court, just about everything he touches turned to gold.

From a sporting perspective, MJ exploded onto the scene at the University of North Carolina, winning an NCAA title as a freshman and only improved from there. He entered the NBA in 1984 and joined the Chicago Bulls. After some growing pains, he would lead the club to six championships in two separate three-peats.

That success helped make Jordan a pop-cultural icon. He appeared in Space Jam alongside the Loony Toons and sold everything from McDonald’s meals to Hanes underwear. As you might imagine, those gigs didn’t just make His Airness even more famous; they also helped his bottom line balloon to an incredible size.

These days, Jordan is worth roughly $1.6 billion and still stands tall in the public consciousness. No matter how you measure success –on-court achievement, celebrity status, or financial might — the NBA legend is tough to beat.

MJ’s outfits weren’t always well-received, though

Michael Jordan wears one of his signature baggy suits while being interviewed by Jay Leno.
Michael Jordan during a 1997 appearance on ‘The Tonight Show.’ | Joseph Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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For all of that success, however, Jordan did have one weakness. During his playing career, the basketball legend donned some questionable outfits.

If you browse through old NBA photos, you’ll see Jordan rocking a very specific style. While there was some variance across the board — no one, let alone the most famous basketball player of all time, could wear the exact same outfit all the time — a general trend did emerge. On the whole, His Airness wore baggy, oversized clothes.

While one could try to give Jordan the benefit of the doubt and explain his choices as the style of the time, the internet isn’t a forgiving place. A Tumblr blog chronicling MJ’s fashion choices is descriptively titled “What The F*** is Michael Jordan Wearing?“. Similarly, a Bleacher Report story once looked at the star’s transition from “style icon to fashion faux pas.”

In 2020, The Wall Street Journal ran a story wondering if Jordan was “the worst dressed athlete of all time,” and, in fairness to the former NBA star, they noted he had improved over the years.

Michael Jordan’s baggy suits stemmed from his own self-consciousness

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Based on his overall resume and his reputation for trash talk, you might think that Jordan was the most confident man around. Even His Airness, however, could be self-conscious, which led to his signature style.

As explained by Jeremy Bembry of The Undefeated, Jordan hadn’t had the best experiences with custom suits but agreed to give Burdi Clothing a shot. They took his measurements and made a try-on suit for His Airness. He ended up falling in love with that baggier outfit rather than wanting a more tailored look.

“Jordan had wanted a bigger, extra-long jacket because he was self-conscious about jackets that he believed were too short (forcing him to constantly yank them down),” Bembry wrote. “And he desired extra wide-legged pants because it camouflaged how big his shoes were in relation to his skinny legs.”

And there you have it. Michael Jordan, one of the most confident athletes to ever hit the NBA hardwood, got his signature style from his own self-consciousness.