"What is that!?" was my first response at the unveiling of the official U.S. Opening Ceremony look. Designed by Ralph Lauren, these seem all wrong to me. Our 530 athletes will be appearing on July 27th in these:
I wasn't sure if I was just being judgmental at first. I looked at it once. I looked at it twice. I thought I didn't like it. I knew I didn't like it. In fact, I hate it.
According to the internet, this has been a popular reaction. Of course it's easier to critique than create....but this look gets a definite "no" from this American. And I have definite reasons why.
1. That picture
America has long enjoyed rampant nationalism, but to me and many other young people - expat or not - the "1950s Ra Ra American flag" look is so over.
The beret conjures up images of the French, baguettes, and le petit cafes. Not America, not sports. Many have called this piece simply "un-American".
Surprisingly, this is not the first time the beret has been part of the official gear. At the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, the team sported berets which became best-sellers. Sacrebleu!
3. Skirt/Sock Combo
Ralph Lauren is known for his preppy styling, but this look is downright dowdy. While the athletes should hardly be dressed up for maximum sex appeal, these long white skirt and bobby socks are downright schoolmarmish.
Celebrity stylist Robert Verdi told the New York Daily News that "There's something that Ralph does that oftentimes can look costume-y...It was a combination of things to me: rich, British private school kids ... and Mr. Howell from 'Gilligan's Island." Hear hear!
That logo is massive. The Ralph Lauren logo is almost as prominent as the Olympic patch. Some may say, "What could be more American than branding and product placement?", but I find it distasteful. This isn't Ralph Lauren's team, it's America's.
6. Made in China
That the uniforms were made in China is far from surprising, but it is disappointing. As the US struggles to maintain its tentative hold on the last of US manufacturing, this seems like a wasted opportunity.
7. Price Tag
Not only were the clothes made abroad, they were expensive! Uniforms cost over $1,000 each.
Price List via ralphlauren.com:
Apparently we aren't the only ones facing a little uniform embarrassment. Other countries Olympic uniforms aren't much better. China struggles with a difficult red & yellow color combo. Australia's outfits may be even preppier than the US. And Russia has an interesting/confusing patter going on.
In any case, enjoy the opening ceremonies and the various outfits the nations sport. Once these get-ups come off, the real Games begin.
To find out more about some exceptional athletes competing from around the globe, read