When life gave the Dutch fans orange, they made costumes.
To them, getting ready for a match is not just putting on a team jersey and painting the flag on each cheek.
It’s about being head-to-toe orange. Brilliant orange. It’s about creating an entire outfit that will show their support but, almost as importantly, make everyone look and put a smile on their faces.
At Monday’s match at Arena Corinthians, one could see men in orange business suits, women and men dressed up as Dutch girls with braided hair, hats with windmills and wooden shoes on top and even giant, walking Delftware.
They stand out like, well, traffic cones.
All teams have those crazy, lovable folks who dress up for the occasion. But no team has the quantity — and quality? – of supporters that like to show their support so fashionably.
If World Cups were won on colorful fans alone, Holland would not still be searching for its first title ever in this tournament.
“We like to dress up,” said Dennis Rutjes, who had on an orange T-shirt, something in orange that can only be explained as a cross between an apron and lederhosen with Dutch lions all over it and a Goldilocks wig that was, of course, orange not blond. “I didn’t have many choices for my outfit.”
Clearly, others have plenty of time and options for their game gear.
One couple had outfits — complete with feathers, spangles and lace — that would have looked at home on the samba floor or at Carnival. They were a symphony in orange.
The Dutch quite often do that —they take whatever is iconic in the host country and turn it into a fashion statement. At the 1994 World Cup in the United States, they had cowboy hats and chaps.
Rutjes, a 23-year-old from Arnhem, Netherlands, who is traveling with six other orange-dressed compatriots, says the Dutch fever is reaching an all-time high.
“When we are winning, the fans really get behind the team,” Rutjes said.
And that the team is, winning. Holland is undefeated in three matches in Brazil. Monday’s 2-0 win over Chile secured first place for Holland and will put it in a Round of 16 match against Mexico on Sunday in Fortaleza.
The Netherlands has played well in many other World Cups, only to fall in the later rounds.
The country of tulips — which you could see one woman dressed as on Monday, has wilted three times in the final, including an extra-time loss to Spain in the 2010 final.
Win or lose, orange was, is and always will be the new black.
The Holland flag is comprised of horizontal stripes of red, white and blue. But there’s only a hint of those three colors in the game-day get-ups.
So why orange?
“Orange is the color of our royalty,” said Jenny Basten, a resident of Amsterdam, who was wearing a feathered headdress along with a friend. “That’s why the orange.”
But it’s not just the outfits, it’s the attitude. The Dutch really make a party out of the Cup.
They are probably the most outgoing of the Cup’s fans. They dance, sing, chant, drink and paint the town orange. Some of them even bring things to hand out to fans from other countries.
“We have fun,” said Basten, who also attended the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. “That’s what’s important.”
The team knows how important the fans are to its success. They walked around the perimeter of the field after Monday’s match, thanking all of the Orange faithful that have come halfway around the world to see them. One of the players even went over to the stands to talk to the fans.
The feeling is mutual, just ask Rutjes.
“When we we’re leaving the Australia game last week, the fans were all in the tunnel singing and it gave you chicken skin,” Rutjes said, using the Dutch equivalent to goose bumps. “It was one of the greatest moments for me.”
The Dutch fans are no doubt hoping this long trip to Brazil has quite a few more great moments in store.