Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Gold medal of Olympic fashion

Living in a former Olympic city and the birthplace of the Games, it’s inevitable that comparisons are made between what Beijing presented Friday night and Athens 2004. Everyone has an opinion, so I won’t open or enter a cliché debate because it’s apples and oranges, really — two very different countries, two very different cultures and two very different visions. Forget about it! What about the clothes?

Olympic fashion has gotten serious in recent years. It’s not just tracksuits and tennis shoes anymore, and it’s not always about traditional dress and national colors. It’s branding, endorsements and, for the first time this year, close-ups on footwear. It’s name brand designers called upon to dress the national team from head to toe and make a statement, hopefully good.

The announcement of a nation in the stadium is a lot like a model’s first appearance on the runway. Everyone wants to see what they’re wearing.

Gold medal fashion

Most stylish male: The Netherlands

From head to toe, the men looked jaunty and modern with a splash of color. Loved the shoes too! From a distance it looked like they were wearing spats.

Most stylish female: France

Everything from the wide leather belts, navy berets and smart matching purses. Impressive.

Best dressed team: New Zealand

The stark contrast of dark colors with a traditional leaf worn by both male and female team members made the Kiwis stand out in a sea of white and presented a united front…and the cape was a nice touch.

Best dressed male: United Kingdom

UK newspapers blasted their countrymen for looking like outdated boaters, but they looked sharp and comfortable.

Best dressed female: Sweden

Paying homage to their hosts in qipao frocks in national colors, it was tasteful and fun without being insulting.

Best pants: Italy

Can cargo pants be tailored? If anyone can do it, it’s the Italians.

Best skateboarder imitation: Switzerland

Hats (err, pants) off to them for showing some leg, though poor Roger had to wear that ugly polo shirt.

Most likely to end up on a hamburger: China

No disrespect to the host nation, but the first thing that comes to mind is mustard and ketchup.

Most likely to burn your retinas: Spain

My eyes, my eyes!

WTF award: Australia

Officials defended the non-national colored frumpy tracksuits as “hip” and what the young kids want these days, even going so far as to criticize the Americans for “putting 18-year-olds in blazers and Great Gatsby hats.” But as James from Beijing said in his comments here, anyone using the word “hip” to describe fashion today is obviously out of touch. Take a look at the bottom photo to see what the original opening ceremony outfit looked like before it was changed.

The original design

Don’t love it, don’t hate it: USA

Crowds are historically split on what the Americans wear — some love it, some hate it. Whatever anyone thinks this year, it was undeniably classic Ralph Lauren style.

Sleek, casual wear

Beyond the clothes, I noticed that different nations had different ways of taking the ceremonious walk around the stadium. Some segregated men and women, some had orderly rows, some looked like ants scattering in a panic.

The Americans hugged the outer ring but stayed within the lines as the contingency snaked around; Italians went everywhere and anywhere they pleased, including into the nation’s lineup behind them as each member tried to get on TV. The Germans were the only ones carrying teammates on their shoulders and doing the wave. Great fun!

Gold medal emotion

The best part of any Olympic Games is raw emotion. Germany had tons of it last night, and so did Spain.

There’s a certain pride you feel when athletes from your country enter the stadium, and the more jubilant they are, the prouder you feel. As they look up to greet the prime minister, president or king/queen and wave flags at each other, there’s a love and a desire for them to succeed because they are young and full of hopes and dreams; they represent you and your nation and everything good it could be. And no matter what conflicts exist, the world comes together in friendship if only for a minute and peace somehow seems possible.


All photos from Getty Images, except original Australian uniform from China Daily and casual wear from Ralph Lauren

17 Comments »

  Going Crunchy wrote @ August 9th, 2008 at 21:40

Lovin this post! I missed the opening show, so now I’m going to have to track it down and watch. Shan

  you’re a spammer wrote @ August 10th, 2008 at 09:27

Excellent copy/paste skills. Keep up the good work.

  maria v wrote @ August 10th, 2008 at 09:48

thanks for a most enlightening post

  phillip wrote @ August 10th, 2008 at 11:25

love it! lol at the ‘most likely to end up on a burger’ award :p

  Kat wrote @ August 10th, 2008 at 12:51

S – You should just watch excerpts in my opinion or fast forward a DVD/tape. There were a lot of places where it dragged on.

Vaios/Yiannis- A spammer is someone who abuses email to send bulk messages. This is an opinion post that I wrote myself, gave hypothetical awards in imaginary categories, and properly attributed where I got my images. Keep up the baseless, irrelevant comments.

M – :)

P – Hi again! Nothing wrong with a little humor ;)

  rositta wrote @ August 10th, 2008 at 17:28

And the worst dressed award goes to …the Canadians…ciao

  A wrote @ August 10th, 2008 at 19:45

I thought Jamaica did a nice job, Japan had a very neat, trim outfit, but the real wacko was the Hungary outfit for women. Its a 50s style dress with a soft hat. White with a red flowered print. Does not exactly say “I’m an athlete” but more importantly, these are people whose bodies are temples – why not give them something flattering to wear?

  Cheryl wrote @ August 11th, 2008 at 10:32

I loved reading this Kat! I didn’t get to watch all of it, missed the opening show completely, but I did get to watch most of the athletes enter the stadium. There were only a few countries that made me wonder who the heck put them in their outfits. (ask me if I can remember exactly who…???) But I did think that the Americans looked good. Great post!

  KT wrote @ August 11th, 2008 at 16:53

the americans and italians are looking good.

  Dora wrote @ August 11th, 2008 at 17:09

Hi Kat! To me, the opening and closing ceremonies are the most exciting and creative venues! The host country has to explain to the world their history and contributions, and not be boring. It’s theater after all. I love watching all the countries parade into the stadium, but I get a special tickle watching my “homies” the Greeks and Americans. I am always thinking how proud and excited all the athletes and their families are feeling in the moment. That chokes me up.

  Tania wrote @ August 13th, 2008 at 06:51

Thanks for that great precis of the opening ceremony. I have to admit I fell asleep during the opening ceremomy – too long and a bit too militaristic/stylised for my taste. Although I am in awe of how coordinated the participants were – amazing. I am forever changed by my overwhelming emotion during the Athens Games and so I guess unfortunately nothing else will live up to that for me. Biased, I know, but at least I’m admitting it.

I love how excited the Chinese people seem to be to be hosting the Olympics and how much their smiling faces shine through in every news item I see on it. I also love the blue building which houses the pool. What an amazing building. The Chinese have done themselves proud in the preparation for the Olympics.

I laughed a lot at your WTF award for Australia – I have to agree – WTF were they thinking – and sorry I can’t answer my own question LOL.

I really loved the uniforms you showed here and your comments – very funny. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.

  The Scorpion wrote @ August 13th, 2008 at 08:59

For me, the only moment that counted was when I saw my Hero, Kobe Bryant, shuffling thru with the US Team. And of course later on the court breezing by China and Angola, and hopefully Elladitsa on Thursday. Cheers….

  GG wrote @ August 14th, 2008 at 14:58

WTF award! LOL!!! I thought the same when I saw our Aussies (but love the colour).

Best-dressed team/nation: BENIN!

The Germans had had a bit too much beer. Save it for the Closing Ceremony guys!

What about a flag-waving award? Quite a few flag-bearers had no clue but some did it magnificently.

  kalliope wrote @ August 14th, 2008 at 15:00

Great post! The Olympics have certainly disrupted my sleep pattern here on the west coast USA. They are addicting. Wish the coverage here was more global. I do think that the country “looks” are much improved over the Turin 2006 (http://ichkalliope.typepad.com/ich_kalliope/2006/02/index.html) Winter Games which left me totally confused, especially on the field of play.

Love the rumors around LeBron being courted by the Greek National Team.

  Kat wrote @ August 14th, 2008 at 17:22

R – Really? I didn’t think they were the worse. They even had an Italian designer help them out, as I recall.

A – I think Hungary was trying to be modern and forward. It probably looked good on paper, but it didn’t translate well to being draped on a real human being. And I agree with you, these are young men and women with the best bodies…why not show them off?

C – Thanks! Sometimes it’s nice for me to do a non-serious post.

D – My belief is that the American hugged the right sidewall so their families could see them and take photos. I can’t imagine how proud that moment must be. I also like it when the athletes on the field seek out people they admire from other countries and take photos together. Sure, they see each other on the playing field, pool or court, but it’s like one big world party.

T – LOL! You crack me up. I’m biased too, which is the reason I opted out of stating an opinion, but there were parts that dragged on, which is the reason I recommended that Shan fast forward or watch highlights. As I recall, you and I both wept like babies during Athens 2004.

The S – It’s Thursday afternoon, and I feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders after hearing you-know-what for the past 2 years.

GG – The color was nice, but I think I heard an Aussie say they looked like “sucked ice cubes.” That was a bit harsh, I think. Also, what you said about the flag bearers, many of them did look awkward. Probably a few were taken aback by how much it weighed and how difficult it can be to hold it upright for so long.

K – Hi, nice to see you here! :) LOL, true, the west coast is even night and day between there and Athens. Naturally, I think all nations are focused on their athletes with little coverage on anyone else. I’m finding it difficult to see what I want also, and the clips we do get are cut irregularly (i.e. not shown in full or cuts to commercial during the climax) or have terrible commentary. We’ve got a box that gives us access to TV stations in Spain and France, so we get to see more events that way and our French and Spanish language skills are getting some exercise.

P.S. I believe LeBron said his minimum price for playing abroad is $30 million.

  graffic wrote @ August 15th, 2008 at 18:58

I guess the country with less people in the opening deserves a special mention.

BTW: I got a bit bored. Perhaps it was the guy controlling the cameras, but it was a bit boring.

  Marlene wrote @ November 10th, 2008 at 11:34

Thanks for giving the Dutch men first prize. I am proud of my men. (I wish) ;)

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