Olympic Threads

Look, I know that by now we have all seen at least some incarnation of the Olympic national outfits. There are some clear winners in the fabulousity department, as well as some that will…well….how shall I put this….will surely keep the polyester industry from going under this quarter.

The opening ceremonies are underway in the background as I write this. Personally, I find the whole ceremonial concept a bit heavy-handed this time around. Kenneth Branagh in mutton chops and a top hat (!?), James Bond giving the Queen a lift to the games (cool, if not a bit superfluous), those chimneys, that….wait….are those sheep!?

I appreciate the challenges Danny Boyle must have faced in his effort to capture something as broad as the history of the UK, and portray it in his trademark high-concept way. Yet it all seems just a bit disjointed and off-message to me. Assuming of course, that the message is that athletes from widely varying backgrounds and circumstances will unite on UK soil, bound-together by a common love of sport and hosted by a nation with a rich history. Of course, I may have just assumed that wrongly. Perhaps this year the message is that Great Britain corners the market on dapper tailoring, livestock, and period dramas, in which case I support the effort in its entirety, as the message is spot-on. Although the Italians might have something to say about the tailoring bit.

So. Speaking of tailoring, lets look at some of the national outfits for the athletes, shall we?

Ten Notable Olympic National Outfits from the London Summer Games Opening Ceremony, Class of 2012, In No Particular Order
photos courtesy of Yahoo

1. Best Example of Understated Chic Minimalism  - Denmark

Designed by Bestseller, a Danish retailer that I will surely be visiting in the future.

2. Most Likely to be Mistaken For An Elderly Member of a Bus Tour Group

This one was a close race, resulting in a tie between....

Windbreakers. Not pictured: the orthopaedic shoes and the Kleenex tissues stuffed up the sleeves.
Designed by Bogner

and New Zealand
Boxy jackets, frumpy dresses, a dreary print in a morose palette...but they have nice smiles.
Designed by Rodd and Gunn's Irena Prikryl

3. Best Impression of a Cruise Ship Lounge Act - Russia

Thanks very much, we'll be on the Lido deck at eight....
Designed by Bosco 

4. Most Likely to be Mistaken For the Office IT Guy - USA

I don't hate it, and I know that there was another incarnation of this with a blazer and a beret, but this version is looking just a little too "corporate workwear" for my liking. We are just one khaki pant, lanyard and mobile phone clip away from full-on IT guy territory. Designed by Ralph Lauren

5. Most Underwhelming Effort By a Talented Designer

Another tie between...

Great Britain
Again, I don't hate it, but....meh. Designed by Stella McCartney

and Italy
Double Meh....
Designed by Giorgio Armani and Miuccia Prada

6. Most Likely to Ask You if You Want Fries With That - Spain

These photos were Tweeted by the athletes. The look on his face (left) says it all.
Designed by Bosco, a double-offender! (They also designed Russia's look).

7. Most Likely to Ask You to Return Your Seat Backs and Tray Tables to the Upright Position
Designed by Jeff Banks, who says he was inspired by The Great Gatsby,
that rumble you can hear is  F. Scott Fitzgerald rolling over in his grave.

8. Best Yell-Yeah, Now That’s What I’m Talkin’ About Look of the Opening Ceremony  
 The Netherlands

A fresh, appropriately Dutch colour palette, a nod to the classics, while still maintaining modern tailoring and silhouettes. Well done, Netherlands!  Goed gedaan!  Boo-YAH!
Designed by Murray Coattee for Suit Supply

Thoughts? Comments? Did you see the opening ceremony? What say you? Irreverent and visionary or overworked and shambolic?  Discuss. 


  1. The Danish outfits can jump right into my closet - fabulous!

  2. I wanted to love the opening ceremony, but found myself consulting Yahoo's article on Decoding the Ceremony this morning, a sure sign that there were many, many people who were more confused than entertained. I'm all for fine health care, but a tribute to the NHS as an Olympic feature? Giant baby heads? Singers who sang out of tune or chose to breathe every other word? sigh. Still, it had a lot of energy and had some fun moments.

    As for the fashion, the USA's uniforms were more stylish that I'd been led to expect, Spain and Russia's as bad as feared, and I'd like to give bonus points to everyone who rocked a skirt and feathers, especially when they were men. Mexico's outfits were on the costume-y side, but they stood out and they made me smile.

    1. Pale Blue StockingJuly 29, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      To me, Mexico had a bit much of the Try Too Hard about them, so they lost my vote. Saw that two teams were working the dipdyed sleeves look (Bet there were hissy fits in the holding pens) and I am sorry USA, I really am, but BERETS? Full marks to Poland's women who played the old bridesmaids' card and ended with up with a dress they can Wear Again. Not that they will, but it's a great way of avoiding featuring in all those photos done out in lemon polyester satin/ill fitting air crew ensembles.

      Completely agree re the fabulousness of the Dutch outfits, but this judge awards the gold medal to Cameroon. They looked like they had rocked up in their best and were out to have a great time - what more could anyone ask for?

    2. Oooh...Cameroon was good, this is true. And about the opening ceremony....I completely agree that if you need a "decoder" after the fact, you have missed the mark. That tribute to the NHS just creeped me out. Pity they didn't portray the 14-week waiting times that exist for things like inpatient angiograms. They could have done a kick line of chorus girls that represents the queue. I also had a moment during that Harry Potter sequence where that big, caped soul-sucking nightmarish figure was floating about, the one from the books I presume.....I know what that was meant to be, but am I the only one who kept fixating on that Monty Python sketch where Death comes to the dinner party and takes them all away to heaven, all because of the salmon mousse? It looked just like Death! It even had a pointy finger, just like in the sketch! Beware the salmon mousse! So basically while everyone else was revelling in the glory of the spectacle, all I could think about was Kenneth Branagh's mutton chops and the salmon mousse. Maybe I was just hungry.

  3. Such a great and funny post. Still chuckling. This was way better than the opening ceremonies!


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