To our mind, the traditional Aston Villa look is a claret shirt with sky-blue sleeves, white shorts and sky-blue socks.
It has been the favoured choice in recent times – and is what is in use this season – but the blue socks were premiered only in 1968 and didn’t become properly established until the early 1970s.
Villa have never been afraid to experiment and at the turn of the millennium they went three consecutive seasons where the primary kit was not the expected one.
In the last of those, 2001-02, the shirt was solid claret but the shorts and socks were at least white and blue respectively.
The two campaigns before that did challenge the sensibilities of the classicists – however, there instances of white shorts appearing in mashups.
For Reebok’s last season as kit-maker, 1999-2000, they gave Villa a Barcelona-like kit.
While the Asics 1993-95 home strip had chalkstripes, this was the first time since 1888 that the shirt featured even stripes.
The shorts and socks were claret, while the change kit was all-white, allowing for interchangeability.
That facility was required early in the season as, away to the yellow shirts and red shorts and socks of newly promoted Watford, Villa used the white shorts and socks with the home shirts.
Then, in their next away match, against Arsenal, Villa were able to wear their primary jerseys at Highbury for the first time since 1989-90 but, in order to lessen the clash, they donned alternative sky-blue shorts and socks.
Diadora replaced Reebok in the summer of 2000. While new technical partners often go ultra-traditional with their first kit to curry favour with supporters, the Italian company’s initial offering had sky-blue shorts and claret socks, a look often used as a mashup by Villa, one we associate with the late Cyrille Regis.
The irony was that, because the kit looked like a mashup, it rarely caused the need for one – no club was going to cause a socks-clash without Villa needing to change shirts and they could get away without using alternative shorts against teams that had royal-blue sets.
There was one instance where they had to mix things up, though. Often, games featuring teams in claret and blue against those in red and white stripes are allowed to go ahead with both in their default looks – in 1999-2000, Villa did change to their third kit at Sunderland because of the stripes but were able to appear as normal against the white-dominated Southampton shirts.
Away to Southampton in November 2000, they wore the home kit without modification, but there was a switch-up for the trip to the Stadium of Light in March – a night-time game, which may have been a factor.
Villa’s away was all-black and so the elements from that would not have been suitable against Sunderland’s striped shirts and black shorts and socks. There were claret trimmed white shorts on hand though while the white third kit provided donor socks – with jarring black tops – for the kit combination worn in a 1-1 draw, the first of an 11-game unbeaten run.