The W In Designer: Sue Bird’s Style Evolution

Discover how the Seattle Storm guard’s style has changed since entering the league in 2002.  

After an exciting series of WNBA semifinal matchups, the Seattle Storm experienced a loss to the Las Vegas Aces. As the team’s star players start to plan their offseason, the entire league says its final goodbye to guard Sue Bird. With players wearing throwback jerseys, everyone is celebrating the legendary and her 21-year career. Bird has been a star player since entering the league in 2002– she’s played in 13 WNBA All-Star games, 5 Olympics competitions and set new records with each season. Within Bird’s legacy, she’s also led the charge in making the league cooler by bringing stronger street-inspired style each season. 

Studying Bird’s style, she’s instantly recognizable on the court for her long, tied-back brown hair, which has been a signature of the player since she was a teen. The evolution of Bird’s extremely confident approach to pre-game fashion improves with each season in the league and reflects important aspects of Bird’s personal life, like when she officially came out in 2017. Fans can look back on Bird’s style to understand her move away from traditional styles and her journey to finding her true swag through powerful androgynous styles, eye-catching patterns, and rare pairs of sneakers. 

2002: Sue Bird enters the league with the Seattle Storm as the first overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft. Gaining attention in her college career while playing for the University of Connecticut, Bird has a strong sense of how she wants to present herself as a professional athlete. Bird wears popular fashion trends of the early ‘00s with asymmetrical tops, scrunchy cotton basics, and striped patterns. Although Bird has been tying her hair up for games since she was a teenager, her hair is generally shorter in her earliest seasons in the league.

2004: After participating in her first Olympics in 2004, Bird starts off with a strong season with the Seattle Storm. While fighting to advance in the WNBA Western Conference Finals, she broke her nose in the first half while blocking Minnesota’s Teresa Edwards. Bird decides to play the first two games against the Sacramento Monarchs while wearing a face mask to protect her broken nose. To show their support, fans wear stickers shaped like nose bandages that say “Sue Bird” and create an epic fan-style moment.

2007: Bird first played for Russia on the Dynamo Moscow in the 2004-2005 WNBA off-season and returned to the same team for the 2005-2006 off-season. She helps her team to reach the Russian championship and the EuroLeague women’s playoffs. Returning to Russia for the 2006-2007 off-season, Bird plays for the Spartak Moscow team with Diana Taurasi. Bird’s frequent stints in Europe add an urban edge to her style, and she’s seen in faded jeans and embellished graphic T-shirts.  

2010: The Seattle Storm earn their second WNBA Championship title with Bird’s help on the team. Bird also helps her team to win the FIBA World Cup, fueling the fan’s craze for the legendary guard. Bird’s style in 2010 includes jeans, but she begins to pair them with more mature tops like cardigans and button-up shirts. She wears heels after winning the Championship and also keeps comfy in Toms during pre-game moments. Her signature accessories include a watch with a brown leather strap and ultra sleek tied-back hair. 

2013: After an impressive win at the 2012 Olympics, Bird decides to sit out the 2013 WNBA season due to upcoming knee surgery. The Seattle Storm is forced to play its first full season with Bird, but she manages to cheer on her team from the sidelines. Bird begins to get more experimental with her wardrobe by introducing bright, white jeans and strappy sandals. During these years, Bird’s wardrobe includes a lot of brown colors and a neutral color palette. After completing a tour in Europe, it seems like Bird can make any sports uniform look super cool.

 

2015: 2015 marks Bird’s 13th season playing as a guard for the Seattle Storm and her 9th WNBA All-Star appearance, which signals her growing player legacy. Bird keeps her wardrobe fairly simple, gravitating back to neutral-colored pairs of slim jeans, plain cotton tops, and pairs of high-top Converse sneakers. Along with a longer hairstyle, Bird introduces blazers into her pre-game outfits, which is a precursor for the exaggerated, statement blazers she’s been wearing this season. 

2018: Bird suffers another broken nose after accidentally getting hit in the face with teammate Breanna Stewart’s elbow, which brings back Bird’s masked in-game look. Off the court, Bird begins to incorporate leather jackets, varsity jackets and brightly colored graphic T-shirts, which are all elements of her current style. Throughout the season, Bird is also seen in multiple pairs of the newly released OFF-WHITE x Nike sneakers, like this pair of black Zoom Fly sneakers. Her style also begins to push towards modern, androgynous styles instead of following conventional fashion trends.  

2019: Leading up to Bird’s engagement announcement with Megan Rapinoe in 2020, she makes frequent appearances with the powerful soccer player by her side. Bird starts to wear more pairs of Nike Dunks, Nike Blazers and other sneakers in her growing collection. Missing part of the season after undergoing another knee surgery, her off-court fashion begins to incorporate an even sportier edge with classic track jackets and patterned tops. It’s hard to imagine Bird without all the eye-catching patterns that define her best pre-game looks in her most recent seasons. 

 

2021: Bird increases her presence at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by becoming the Team USA flag bearer. As COVID-19 regulations increase, Bird becomes one of the earliest players to incorporate masks in a stylish way that color coordinates with each of her pre-game looks. Although it’s unconfirmed if Bird was working with a stylist in the 2021 season, she quickly solidified her reputation as one of the league’s most fashion-forward players. She incorporates rare sneakers, funky colors, and designer brands like Gucci and CELINE into her wardrobe. 

2022: Partnering with stylist Courtney Mays, Bird finds her best style in her final season with the Seattle Storm. She began to go viral online for her head-to-toe outfits in unusual patterns, dramatic color blocking, and oversized, structured blazers. Throughout the season, her go-to accessory becomes tinted pairs of sunglasses. Her sneakers have become even rarer as more media outlets begin to pick up on Bird’s growing sneakerhead reputation. After winning four WNBA championships, Bird is helping the Seattle Storm advance through the Semifinals in her final season.  

WNBA reporter Kirsten Chen writes a lifestyle & fashion column on WNBA.com throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter through @hotgothwriter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.