Olympic Fashion: The fantastic, the fail, and the flight attendants

For athletes who get to walk, it’s easily one of the greatest moments of their careers— the parade of nations at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies. The crowds are screaming, the scene is awe-inspiring, and millions upon millions of eyes are upon them as the finest physical specimens in the world parade around wearing the traditional flight-attendant uniforms of their respective countries.

And, that’s if they’re lucky. The chances of being accosted by some designer’s avant garde headpiece or a track suit tribute to Jackson Pollock and synesthesia are perilously high.

Which brings us to Spain, because what else would you want to be wearing at this moment than a McDonald’s uniform designed by Ed Hardy, as modified by Hulk Hogan? Spain’s Olympic uniform has been described as all that and more since one of the team’s canoers (canoeists?) Saul Craviotto tweeted this sad picture of himself donning the duds for the first time.

Spain's Saul Craviotto models his uniform.

It went viral, and fan and media response has been unforgiving, but I’m not sure why they were so surprised. Here’s Spain in 2008:

Spain Olympics 2008

Spain’s is the most prominent, but it’s not the only misfire of the 2012 Olympics. Even high-profile names like Stella McCartney (Great Britain), Ralph Lauren (U.S.A.), and Giorgio Armani (Italy) are no guarantee your fellow countrymen will be looking stylish. For the record, I’m a fan of McCartney’s take on Great Britain’s uniforms, though some objected to her minimizing of the red in the Union Jack, which at some angles can make them look like USPS cycling uniforms.

Many country’s athletes would like to offer you pretzels or peanuts. Please see China:

China Olympics uniforms

And, Belize:

Belize Olympics 2012

The opening ceremony is nothing if not a place for aggressive blazering. Another brand of this trend is seen in the look of the United States athletes, outfitted by Ralph Lauren for an outing on John Kerry’s yacht— beret included! I have no huge objection to berets. The American team has almost always worn some kind of headgear, though in most years it’s been a sort of Panama hat or a golf cap. I do have an objection to what this outfit is doing for women athletes, which is exactly nothing.

US 2012 Olympics uniforms

Let’s have a look at the men.

US Men Olympics team

Nice for them. I find the whole look a little tired and dorky. Didn’t we create modern sportswear? Come on, America! We, also, should not have been surprised. Please observe our outfits from six different Olympics opening ceremonies. We are, first and foremost, a blue-blazer wearing people:

Olympics blue blazers

The Australians also went for croquet lawn wear, though the linings of their jackets have a nice touch— names of the athletes who came before them.

Australian Olympics uniforms 2012

The Kiwi jackets are neat— different without being overdone— but the dresses are a tad twee for powerful female athletes. Give ’em a pencil skirt. They can handle it!

Kiwi Olympics uniforms 2012

Oh, of course the French look like this.

French Olympics uniforms 2012

And, the Germans threw out their country colors entirely for a look I call Heteronormative Discoteque:

German Olympics Uniforms 2012

As for me, it turns out I long for the Reagan era in Olympic uniforms. Check out these beauties! Both were designed by Levi Strauss. We shoulda gone throw-back.

Olympics uniforms 1984

A great slideshow of U.S. uniforms through the years, here. The New York Times also has a collection of U.S. uniforms, both the dapper and the duds (Check out 1996’s women’s outfit. Is that a skort??!).

For more on Olympic fashion fails, see Buzzfeed’s collection of 12 Ridiculous Uniforms.

This blog collects some great scarf-centric looks of countries throughout history.

I am no fashion expert, so tell me in comments what you think and leave other cheers and jeers I missed as you’re watching the ceremony.