Lionel Messi and the hazards of a red suit

Lionel Messi at the Ballon D'Or

Footballing star Lionel Messi lost out in last night's Fifa Ballon d'Or awards. But it's his red suit that has been getting all the attention, says Ben Milne.

"Everyone is rocking a black tux and Messi shows up in a red one like he's Beyonce," was a typical comment on Twitter.

He may have lost out to Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo as player of the year, but there's no question that Barcelona star Messi's burgundy Dolce & Gabbana number has walked away with all the press attention.

A red suit is, to put it mildly, a bold statement. There is no retreating with a red suit, and there is no pretending you are not trying to be the centre of attention. And herein lies the dilemma, according to style commentator, Peter York.

"I feel sorry for Mr Messi. He's probably a very nice person, but I think it makes him look quite silly," he says. "It takes a lot to pull off a red suit."

The Argentinian may be one of the greatest footballers of all time, but he's never been a fashion icon like David Beckham, or a peacock, as Ronaldo is frequently described (occasionally even in a good way).

Wearing red indicates you are not prepared to stand in the shadows. Butlin's was clearly on to something when it dressed its entertainers in peppy red coats. "Redcoats look smart, are helpful to all guests and remain cheerful throughout each day," reads one guide to getting a job at the holiday camp chain.

The "godfather of soul" James Brown got away with a red suit, because while he was in the room, nobody was going to be looking anywhere else. In more recent days, Justin Bieber and Will Smith - neither of them shrinking violets - have pulled off the look.

Will Smith and Justin Bieber in red suits

This is not the first time Messi has used the Ballon d'Or awards to dip his toe in the water, fashion-wise. On a previous occasion he showed up in a polka dot tux. But York doesn't see him supplanting Beckham in the fashion pages: "David Beckham has got a PhD and an MBA in smart dressing because he's been through the mill."

Messi, on the other hand, seems so uncomfortable, says York, "he looks almost British".

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