Category Archives: History

US Olympic OC Fashion: Political or Patriotic?

The Olympic games are one of the few events which enlist the participation of 88 nations and garners global spectator-ship. The Olympics are just as much a cultural event as they are a sporting event. And while this is an event for the global community, the competitive nature of the games inspires a great deal of patriotism and nationalism. Each team has a responsibility to represent its country’s values and culture from the moment they touch down in Sochi to the moment they leave, whether medal-clad or not. Most people assume that by winning medals in their respective events that the athletes have proven the success of their country’s government, culture, and fundamental values and mores. But unless the athlete is someone like Michael Phelps who boasts 22 medals, the world is more likely to remember your presence and presentation than they are to remember your performance.

This is why the teams’ and individuals’ appearances are so important and this is where fashion comes into play (pun intended). The teams’ styles are debuted and broadcasted to a worldwide audience at the games’ Opening Ceremonies, where the athletes are formally welcomed and introduced. Next to each individual’s event this is the most important moment for the athletes and even more so for their respective countries. Each country’s culture is being assessed through how their is presented and a major component of this is how they look: their physical appearance and how they are dressed.

OpeningCeremonies_RL_Team

This year, as in 2010 and 2012, the United States’ Olympic team will be dressed head to toe in Ralph Lauren designs, but unlike previous years, these designs were produced and manufactured entirely in the United States. It seems like common sense that the America team wear designs that showcase the talent of American designers, and also the capacity of American clothing manufacturers, but this apparently wasn’t so apparent to the USOC and Ralph Lauren. It was not until political backlash over US team uniforms and attire being produced in China that the decision was made for this year’s drab to be entirely American from concept to production.

The Ralph Lauren ensembles this year are pretty similar to what we saw in 2010, with the exception of this year’s much talked about vibrantly patriotic cardigans. The cardigan is boldly American with displays of large stars, red and white stripes, two American flags, the letters USA printed once on the chest and again much larger on the back. There was some immediate concern over perceived “flamboyance” of the sweaters as the Russian government has made clear its anti-homosexual views through rhetoric and policy. There was speculation that the sweaters were designed to make a political statement that was less so “pro-gay” and more so “Anti-Russia.” Regardless I find it hard to believe that there was any intention on the part of Ralph Lauren’s design team to make any statement other than, “Go USA!” mainly because these designs were probably in concept before the issue of Russia’s views towards the gay community were broadcast to the Olympic community.

OpeningCeremonies_RL_SweaterAs for the rest of the ensemble, which includes white knit pants, navy and red all-weather boots, a think turtle neck, and a patterned knit hat, I was less than impressed in terms of the creativity of the designs as it is something that we have already seen and they are less than fashionable. To Ralph Lauren’s credit, these outfits have to both gender-neutral and also functional in the Russian climate.

All-in-all the outfit is extremely patriotic and I am so happy to know that everything was made here in the USA.

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Meggings

meggings

NINE parts polyester + ONE part spandex = the latest trend in men’s fashion, meggings.

As shocking as this trend may be, it is really not at all shocking or unexpected in any way when you really consider the facts. We saw the female legging evolve from a stirrup pant in the 80’s to a workout pant through the 90’s and early 200o’s ┬áto a trendy item worn by the “jappy” populations of New York, New Jersey, and Michigan to a campus phenomenon in 2010 to where they are now, a versatile wardrobe staple for the GenY population. This same evolution is beginning to happen with male leggings. What once was reserved for male ballerinas became acceptable to professional athletes and with young boys aspiring to look and dress like the NFL and MLB players, athletic wear powerhouses like Under Armour and Nike made spandex a commonplace in the gym and on the field. So given the evolution of leggings among women, it was only natural that a similar progression occur among men. However, with that said, I can’t imagine a time that it will be normal to see every other man (and his manhood) on the streets rocking meggings like we see with girls and leggings, but I do think this trend has the potential to take off among hipster and urban GenY populations.

To purchase one of the meggings pictured above, visit MeggingsMan.

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Grunge, not Gross

Attention millennials: Grunge is back! For those of you Gen-Y babies who didn’t have the pleasure or displeasure of experiencing the peak of the grunge-era because the only thing you were rocking in the 90’s was Gymboree or The Children’s Place, now is your chance to get a little taste of the grunge. I am not sure why or how this trend has come to re-emerge, and honestly I’m pretty reluctant to fully embrace it. If you’re like me and you typically stick to a clean-cut, put-together look, grunge is going to be a challenge. BUT, being the problem solver that I am, I have come up with some ways that people like us can get a taste of the grunge without being swallowed by it and being mistaken for a homeless person.

When planning and researching for this post, I went through some old yearbooks of someone I knew who is about 8 years my senior, and let me tell you there is no better grunge-era inspiration than a suburban Maryland high school yearbook from 1997. I couldn’t help but cringe (and then laugh out loud) at the over-sized graphic tees, baggy painters’ pants, flannel, overalls, and skechers.

However, I am convinced that there is a way to re-invent grunge without looking like a member of Sum 41…or the Backstreet Boys. Most 90’s grunge-era garments are able to be replicated in a more stylish modern way or just simply by altering how they are worn…the exception to this rule is baggy and/or painters jeans.

Screen shot 2014-01-21 at 12.37.57 PM

Instead of…

  • Over-alls, try mixing denims like a light chambray button-down with a slim pant in dark denim
  • Sloppy flannel top, drop the sloppy and get a flannel that is fitted and fully buttoned
  • Over-sized t-shirts, pick a soft brushed cotton tee with a decent 80’s band or campaign slogan

Check out my “Grunge-Era” wishcloud for more 90’s throwback inspiration!

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