In 1890 the Football
League required clubs to register their colours for the
first time and stipulated that no two clubs could register
similar kits. This rule was later relaxed and
clubs were required to travel with a second set of shirts
(usually white) in case of a colour clash.
Stockings did not generally form part of the kit until the
turn of the century while players wore heavy shin guards
outside their socks.
By the close of the century most of the leading clubs were
wearing strips that would be recognisable today.
By 1901 the regulations
that required footballers to cover their knees were relaxed
and shorts (known as “knickerbockers” or "knickers") became
shorter. Shirts and shorts were close fitting and made
from tough, heavyweight natural fibres. For the first
time, stockings became part of clubs’ strips. These were
initially self-coloured but quickly design features such as
contrasting rings on the turnover began to appear. The
main stocking colour was always dark (red, blue, black or
dark blue): pale colours did not appear for another 50
years. Knickers were only available in white, black or
navy blue (occasionally grey). It was exceedingly rare for
clubs to wear matching shirts and shorts although Swansea
Town (now Swansea City) have always worn all-white.
Shirts with laced crew
necks became popular but a variety of collar designs were
evident. Striped shirts were popular and the trend was for
stripes to become wider than they had been during the