Every two years, the world comes together for the Olympics, and that is a beautiful thing. And even more beautiful – hypothetically – is the Parade of Nations, where every country sends its representatives out in matching outfits to wave and smile and generally act psyched to be at the Olympic Games. You would think, in this grand moment, that countries would want their athletes to look their very best, to show off their country at its finest.
That is not exactly the case.
It’s more obvious in the summer Olympics – in the Winter Olympics most countries go for a variation on a warm coat and pants – but there’s still plenty to judge in these outfits.
1. The Netherlands – There are many ways you can screw up a coat and pants. Take The Netherlands, for example, who decided to go with a hideous orange/gray color combo. Not only is this ridiculous because orange isn’t even technically a national color, but those shades of orange and gray don’t work together. At all. At least the silhouette is nice, which is more than can be said for other countries…
2. Switzerland – …Like Switzerland! Here’s a tip, Switzerland – the knee-length shapeless coat works on absolutely no one.
3. Japan – Dammit, Japan! Didn’t you just hear a thing I said to Switzerland? The shapeless puffy lab coat look is terrible. And why navy pants? Navy isn’t even a national color. It’s like you’re the problems of Switzerland and the Netherlands combined.
4. Germany – Some countries – like Germany – tried to get creative with their prints, with disastrous results. Germany has a history of using colors and prints that have nothing to do with their national colors – but there’s pattern matching that works and pattern matching that doesn’t. Pattern matching that works usually includes subtle patterns that share colors in common. These patterns are neither, and both of them are hideous on their own, too. Let’s put it this way – my dad laughed at this outfit. Like full-out pointed and laughed. If my fashion-challenged father laughs at your country’s outfits, you know it’s bad.
5. Ukraine – Ukraine, at least, had the common decency to do only one ugly print. That doesn’t take away, however, from the fact that the print is still pretty gosh-darn ugly.
6. Tonga – Come to Tonga! Where obviously we have never before worn winter coats in our lives!
7. Sweden – And coats weren’t the only things with weird patterns. Sweden looks… well, the coats are weird, no two ways around it, but they’re nowhere near as bad as the weird, shiny, patterned leggings. Also, at some point we should discuss the women with the country names, because the dress is cute enough and the headpieces are cool, but the weird circles are, well, weird.
8. Peru – Speaking of weird leggings, is that woman of Peru wearing jaguar eye leggings? Oh, no.
9. France – France’s outfits look like they all got dingy in the wash. France’s flag has beautiful, vibrant colors, and the shades they chose are just… bleh. They remind me of the USA’s snowboarding outfits, which isn’t a compliment. I hate those things.
10. Portugal – Portugal’s outfits are so close to fine, except the detailing on the front of their jackets makes them look like watermelon. Once you see it, you just can’t unsee it.
11. USA – And then there’s this group of clowns. Look, I get what Ralph Lauren was trying to go for (sort of). America as it’s represented in these outfits is the land of Grandma’s apple pie and small-town homeyness. But really this looks like a July 4th Ugly Sweater party. It just does.
12. Bermuda – Bermuda, do you even go here?
13. Russia – The Russian men, though you can’t really see them, actually look pretty good. But dear God, Russia, what have you done to your women? Make them wear a skinned yak?
14. Slovakia – I don’t really have any opinions on Slovakia, I just wanted to point out this is probably the first and last time we’ll ever see Zdeno Chara wear something with hearts on it.
15. Mexico – Mexico looks pretty sharp. The tailoring on their coats is nice and the black/white color combo is classic for a reason. Their skiing uniform, however, is a little less classic and a little more… fabulous.
16. Kazakhstan – I like Kazakhstan’s outfits. They’re helped by having a nice palette to work with, but France had a nice palette to work with and look how they screwed it up. The nods to native culture are nice, too.
17. Canada – Of course Canada rocks the winter wear, it’s what they live in from October to April. I love the style of their coat – which, despite my ability to criticize fashion, I don’t know enough about fashion to know what it’s called – but I call it the Paddington Bear style.
18. Spain – I love that Spain stepped out of the mold and did smart blazers instead of puffy winter coats. I could do without the hats, but the scarves are nice. Their pants all look like they could use hemming, though.
19. Andorra– And my gold medal winner for best outfits – Andorra! I love the sweaters, I love the slim-fit pants, I love that they don’t have coats but still look appropriately wintery. Well done, Andorra.
It’s an honor to be an Olympian, we aren’t knocking that, but the opportunity to dazzle on the world stage is there, and fashion wise not many countries chose to take it. Best of luck to everyone as Sochi is open and the competitions are in fun force!