Are Basketball Jerseys Supposed to be Long?

Wearing a basketball jersey of your favorite player or team is the perfect way to show your support, and you want to make sure you look good when doing so. Whether you are donning your desired jersey at an actual game, at a sports bar watching with friends, or even just at home, wearing it correctly is key to proper etiquette and style. 

Basketball jerseys are supposed to be a bit longer than your average shirt and should usually be purchased to fit at least one size larger than your normal clothing size. All brands size their jerseys differently, so research is key to finding a proper-fitting basketball jersey. 

Basketball jerseys can be fun to wear and announce to the world what team you support. Wearing a basketball jersey long – but not too long – is a common point of confusion as to why these jerseys are simply not flattering to most body types. Instead of looking stylish, sporty, and cool, sports fans sometimes look the exact opposite. 

How Long Should a Basketball Jersey Be to Fit Right?

NBA basketball jerseys come in a range of styles and brands. Each one varies in cost, quality, and size. Some brands fit slim while others are baggier. And, since they are frequently bought online, knowing what size to get and how long they should be is key to looking appealing while supporting the Lakers, Warriors, or Philadelphia 76ers. 

The whole point to purchasing a basketball jersey that is one size larger than your normal clothing size is to let it hang. Do not listen to your friends who say basketball jerseys are meant to be long so you can tuck them into your pants. Never, ever tuck in your basketball jersey because they are meant to be worn casually, not formally. 

Some of the official NBA jerseys do run more of a slim fit, so you should purchase a size or two larger for a more relaxed look. The best option is to try it on in the store, but if you are purchasing online, you should check the measurements first. For example, Nike jerseys run a bit slimmer, while Adidas fit more regular and true-to-size. 

The non-Nike and non-Adidas brands also run more regular and could probably be purchased true-to-size and still fit longer than normal clothing. These still look authentic and are not as slim as the Nike jerseys. However, the best bet is to try the jerseys on in the store since they are still pricey (even when they are the non-Nike brands): 

  • Mitchell & Ness Swingman
  • Mitchell & Ness Authentic
  • Fanatics Fast Break Jersey 

Buy Your Basketball Jersey Longer to Let it Hang

Basketball jerseys should not hang down to your knees as a dress, but they should be longer than a normal shirt and a relaxed fit. This is not only so it looks casual and cool, but also so you can wear a shirt underneath. Unless you are wearing a basketball jersey to play basketball, you should always wear a shirt or hoodie underneath it. 

The whole point of a basketball jersey is to be casual attire. You do not wear it out to a nice dinner or to a business meeting (one would hope!). You more than likely are wearing it to a game, a bar, or simply out with friends. Do not tuck your jersey that is already longer than normal into your pants or shorts (unless you are playing the game). 

You may be thinking; professional basketball players tuck their jerseys into their basketball shorts. This is because they are required to do so according to their league’s official rules. This is understandable, as it helps with their game performance and prevents injury on the court. However, you do not need to abide by the rules of the NBA. 

That really is the rule of thumb – if you are playing basketball, you may want it tighter so you can move and shoot more fluidly. Anywhere else, it should be long and untucked. Now that it has been determined that basketball jersey styles are longer than other types of clothing and you should not tuck them in, you can decide how long is too long. 

How Long is Too Long for Basketball Jerseys?

Is your basketball jersey length down to your knees? Well, then that is too long. Is it hanging above your belt? Then it is too short. A basketball jersey should fit longer than a normal shirt but not look like a dress. The best way to decide what size to purchase when it comes to length is to measure the length you want in inches. 

There are three main types of basketball jerseys: replica, swingman, and authentic NBA basketball jerseys. They all range in cost, quality, and size, with authentic being the most expensive because they are just like the players, replicas being made to look like the ones worn on the court, and swingman being the most affordable (and best seller). 

Most Websites have the exact inches of what their small, medium, large, and beyond equate to when it comes to chest and length. For example, listed below are some length measurements of some of the most common brands of replica, swingman, and authentic basketball jerseys in a size medium: 

  • Nike Authentic – 30.6 inches
  • Adidas Replica – 32 inches
  • Adidas Swingman – front is 32.875 inches and back is 34.875 inches
  • Adidas Authentic – front is 37.2 inches and back is 39.2 inches
  • Mitchell & Ness Authentic – between 30.5 inches and 31.5 inches 

As you can see from the list above, the length of basketball jerseys can range depending on the type and brand you purchase. If you measure yourself first, then you can decide how long you want your jersey to fit, what size to purchase, and what brand may work best for you. Where you are wearing it may also dictate size. 

What Do the Numbers Mean for My Size?

The best way to find the proper fit of a basketball jersey is to use a soft measuring tape to measure in inches from the top of your shoulder to the leg area in which you would like it to hang. That way, you can figure out which length will work best to make sure it hangs a little longer than normal clothing. It is usually better to go at least a size up. 

Since going a size up can be confusing, it is better to go by the numbers in inches rather than small, medium, or large since each brand and style fits differently. As long as you measure beforehand how long you want your basketball jersey to fit, you should have no problem figuring out whether Nike, Adidas, or another brand will work best. 

If you also want a relaxed fit for the basketball jersey, use that same soft measuring tape, place it just under your armpits, and wrap it around your chest. Since most official brands of basketball jerseys tell you the chest and length measurements in inches, measuring your chest ensures your basketball jersey is appropriately long but too tight. 

If you are set against having your basketball jersey hang long and, instead, are opting for a tighter fit, you will probably want a jersey that is the same as your normal clothing size. Just note, however, that the look of a basketball jersey is meant to be a bit baggier and longer than normal clothing and usually is worn with something underneath. 

Buying a Longer Basketball Jersey to Wear a T-Shirt Underneath

Have you ever been to the mall and had to look twice, eyebrows raised, because a man was walking with nothing on but a sleeveless basketball jersey? It is not a great look for most individuals and should only be done under specific situations. You should purchase a jersey that is larger and longer so you can wear something underneath. 

What do you plan to wear underneath your jersey? If it is just a t-shirt, you can use the standard rule of purchasing a jersey that is one size larger than normal wear. If you want to wear a hoodie, however, you will need extra room for the larger-sized top underneath. Unless it is one-hundred degrees outside, wear something underneath. 

You can make your basketball jersey look that much more stylish by choosing a certain shirt to wear underneath. If you are outside or at a sports bar, a regular cotton shirt or white undershirt is just fine. However, if you are going out with friends and want a more fashionable look, you can play around with color coordination with the jersey. 

For example, if you are going to a sports bar and it is the middle of winter, a nice, light-colored turtleneck would complement a darker-colored basketball jersey. If you are hanging out with friends, then any three-quarter in-sleeved t-shirt should work out fine. Only wear a bare basketball jersey if you are confident you have put in the gym time. 

Get a Basketball Jersey That Fits Your Style and the Occasion

Just because a basketball jersey should be worn longer than normal does not mean you should purchase an extra-extra-large if you are, in fact, normally a medium. Most Nike and Adidas smalls start at a size 40 through 44, while the other brands mentioned above, like Mitchell & Ness Authentic, run smaller (their small is a size 36, so size up!). 

Believe it or not, there is also a certain time and place in which wearing basketball jerseys work and do not work. Knowing the time and place is also important because, as stated above, most occasions will require you to wear a shirt underneath the sleeveless basketball jersey. Unless it is the beach, wear a shirt under for these events:

  • An actual NBA game
  • A sports bar
  • At a restaurant that is showing an NBA game
  • At a party that is sports-themed
  • At work only if it is jersey-themed day 

Here is where you can wear your jersey without a shirt underneath and still feel appropriate for the occasion: 

  • The beach or other areas where it is hot and sunny
  • Halloween (as long as you live in a warm area)
  • Your own home (who cares then?)
  • Playing basketball 

You should avoid wearing your jersey to formal events, such as a business dinner, holiday occasions with family, or nice restaurants. It does not matter how well your basketball jersey fits and how long it looks; there are times when they are just inappropriate and will look embarrassing and make everyone else uncomfortable. 

What About Vintage versus Replica, Swingman, and Authentic Basketball Jerseys?

If you are an avid NBA basketball fan, you may opt for authentic vintage jerseys rather than the standard authentic jerseys sold in stores today. There are numerous Websites that sell retro and vintage basketball jerseys, and they will not empty your pocketbook. However, these sites usually do not tell you what the sizes equate to in terms of inches. 

As discussed with the replica, swingman, and authentic basketball jerseys, the seller’s Websites will more than likely have the measurements to illustrate what their small, medium and larges equate to in the real world. A mall Nike Authentic is not the same length as an Adidas Replica. This is not the case, however, for vintage jerseys. 

The best way to size up a vintage jersey if you are purchasing it from an Internet seller is to ask them for the length (and chest size if need be) of the basketball jersey in inches. Then you can compare that length to the basketball jerseys you already own to make sure it is long enough to look good but not too long that you are wearing a dress. 

From Michael Jordan to Larry Bird, if you find vintage basketball jerseys from a thrift shop or a second-hand store, the best bet is to try it on and make sure it fits your style. Some vintage basketball jerseys can run hundreds of dollars, so you want to make sure it fits correctly unless you are purchasing it to simply hang on your wall. 

There Are Other Rules for Wearing a Basketball Jersey

Before you purchase your favorite team’s basketball jersey that fits the perfect length to wear a color-coordinated shirt underneath, there are other unspoken rules that need to be addressed. That way, you do not spend your hard-earned dollars on a basketball jersey just to make a major faux pas when you go to your first NBA game! 

  •  If attending an actual game, make sure the team you are wearing is playing.
  • Wear your favorite team’s away jersey since they are usually more colorful.
  • Do not wear the same color jersey as your shorts or pants. Only NBA players can get away with this type of color coordination.
  • Try to stick with iconic players if you decide to purchase a personalized basketball jersey. 

In addition to those basic rules above, here is a wrap up of how to build your entire wardrobe around your favorite basketball jersey: 

  1. Measure your length and, if needed, chest for the proper fit that is longer than your normal attire.
  2. Your basketball jersey should represent your favorite team and/or player and fit at least one size larger than normal clothing.
  3. Choose the team’s away jersey and a color-coordinated shirt to wear underneath and is appropriate for the occasion.
  4. Compliment the basketball jersey with either jeans or athletic shorts that are a different color than the jersey (although it is okay to match the color of the wording and number) and the shirt underneath.
  5. Choose where you will wear your basketball jersey wisely and make sure the shirt underneath and the bottoms are appropriate for the occasion.
  6. Accessorize your basketball jersey with comfortable shoes such as sneakers or, if the weather is warm, sandals.
  7. Avoid wearing a matching hat with your basketball jersey – that is simply overkilled at this point. 


Wearing your favorite basketball team’s jersey instills a sense of pride for the players, the team, and the game itself. They can be great conversation starters, but you do not want the conversation to start with how bad you look in the jersey. You need to make sure the money you spend equates to a fit you are comfortable in over time. 

If you purchase an official NBA jersey, in particular, you want to make sure the money you spend is on something you will wear and not something that sits in your closet. Make sure you determine your measurements so that you can look great in your basketball jersey. If you buy one that is too short, it will end up hanging on your wall.

If you liked this post, be sure to check “Can Basketball Jerseys be Tailored?” & “Will Basketball Shorts Shrink in the Dryer?

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