Ranking the Team USA Kits Through the Years
By: Harrier Writing Team
The Olympics kicks off in less than two weeks which means the world's best athletes will be on full display. While the focus of the Olympics is largely on athletic performance, there is also a huge fashion element. From the opening ceremonies outfits to the actual uniforms, each country is able to have their own unique style come Olympic time. For Team USA, the kits have taken on many different looks through the years, all while donning the consistent red, white, and blue colors. Our writing team got together to provide our individual grades for the different kits dating back to 1984.
Carlos Fernandes II: A+
"The 1984 Olympic has a special place in my heart as a Portuguese American because it was during this Olympiad that Carlos Lopes of Portugal one the first gold medal ever for Portugal in the Marathon. However, the Portuguese uniforms were horrendous. The American's had the classiest uniforms this year with their icon Kappa red and grey uniforms with an American flag checkered pattern going down the side giving these kits a truly patriotic flair. Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Mary Decker Slaney, and Florence "Flo-Jo" Griffith all wore this uniform, further elevating it to legendary standing."
Patrick Larson: A
"Honestly, i'm not a huge fan of the colorway here, but the fact that Kappa made the Team USA kits in 1984 is legendary. Bring back Kappa uniforms."
Callin Naddy: B
"Team USA transitioned to a nice uniform with striped accent for '92. While these are definitely a good uniform, they are missing a little 'oomph' that would elevate them to an A status."
Ruby Wyles: B
"Nice use of the whole flag, all the colors and stripes in good proportion, but missing the stars to give it that wow factor. Easily confused with Great Britain though. Very imaginative design for an older kit: I like it!"
Callin Naddy: A
"The '96 Games were host to a ton of iconic uniforms including the sunburst patterns of countries like Russia, China, and Jamaica as well as Nigeria's and Canada's uniforms. But you know Team USA had to show off for the home crowd, and these uniforms (in my opinion, Team USA's best offering yet) + Michael Johnson’s gold shoes did just that."
Carlos Fernandes II: C
"These uniforms aren't very flashy and are kind of dull. Although the legendary Michael Johnson wore this jersey, it still scores low for USA Olympic uniforms."
Callin Naddy: C-
"These are just... not it. The look is too blue and overall reminds me of pulling an ancient high school cross country uniform out of the pile and calling it good for the season."
Carlos Fernandes II: C-
"Again like in '96, these jerseys fall flat and score low in my rankings. Too much blue and the center USA logo is kind of lame."
Carlos Fernandes II: B+
"These USA uniforms are classic. They're simple, the colors pop, and they sport the USA flag in the top right corner."
Ruby Wyles: B
"The navy blue outfit is smart and gives the kit a high quality look. Not a fan of the red top with the grey though, looks a bit like Duct tape. Grey or silver, why not gold?"
Carlos Fernandes II: A-
"These uniforms are very similar to the ones in 2004, but what scores these hirer than the 2004 ones is the red USA lettering pops more on the dark blue jerseys."
Ruby Wyles: A-
"This right amount of tradition mixed with freshness. A nice transition from 2004, taking the best parts of that kit- the navy blue and smart look- and getting rid of the other bits. Just the right amount of nothing, the uniform isn't too busy with design or boring with blank space. The dark blue background makes for great pairing with accessories and shoes. Good job Team USA!"
Patrick Larson: D
"This might be an unpopular opinion, but I'm really not a big fan of these kits. Too simple--there's no personality to them."
Ruby Wyles: D
"Simple and classic, but a bit dull and easily confused with other teams like China, Kenya, and Canada. Very basic and uninspired, as if the designers forgot about the Olympic kit until a week before."
Max Barrios: B+
"Can't go wrong with the beautiful bright blue to represent the USA, but it also reminds me of toothpaste with how bright the blue is!"
Ruby Wyles: A
"This kit is the right amount of newness mixed with tradition. The bright blue easily identifies Team USA from other nations, especially given many wear red gear, like Kenya and China."
Will Blase: A
"Don't get me wrong, that 2008 Beijing kit is hard to beat, but 2021's Tokyo kit? Sheeeeeesh. Do gold medals and stripes clash?"
Callin Naddy: B
"There's definitely some things that work here (hint: the speed suit and uniform of the left absolutely rock, and I'd wear them anytime). But all the purple on the right make that uniform a bit less...USA."
Ruby Wyles: B
"A fresh take on a traditional masterpiece. Modern and animated in keeping with the Japanese culture, but the black/blue stripes with the purple and red may make you dizzy to look at and remind you of an optical illusion."
Mark Wang: B
"Modern look, not the hugest fan of the stripes but not to bad"