The 12 Best & Worst Styles At The Summer Olympic Games

By: Jessie Brunnett

Burned In Our Memory For All Olympic Eternity 

Who else has heard the announcement that promises Team USA to dazzle in Ralph Lauren once again at the summer Olympic games in Tokyo? Over the years, the brand has been creating Team USA’s Olympic image since 2008, with mixed reviews, some calling Ralph Lauren’s opening ceremony merchandise, “too posh”, “too boring”, “too lake house.”

In reflection, the announcement brings up questions of taste. There were those ugly concoctions spat out from Lauren’s designs at the winter Olympics in 2014 featuring cardigans. Shawl-collared cardigans. In other years we’ve seen classic berets, striped shirts, newsboy caps and the reoccurring polo, Ralph Lauren’s staple. We get it, Ralph Lauren, you’re trying to be consistent by providing Team USA with classic comfort, but all we see is a modern-day yachtie who plays golf on the weekends.

The recent announcement for Team USA to rep Ralph Lauren again, made us reflect on the most stylish ensembles and worst abominations in Summer Olympic history. 

 If we graded some of these on a curve, it would be slight improvement over Australia’s attempt to relive Jurassic Park in 2008. But it begs the question, is it better to dazzle in an abomination or blend in through predictable and boring pieces? We’ll let you decide for yourself. 


We start with the worst outfits. Grab your popcorn and your pop culture references, you don’t want to miss these! 

Team USA at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games


Team USA in the 1984 Olympics in L.A. made an entrance in matching sweatsuits alongside white shoes and complete with matching red visors of all things. A VISOR!! At first glance, they look like a crowd of grandparents walking to Sunday night bingo, but as Buzzfeed puts it, “U.S.A forgot to change out of their gym clothes. Some went formal, we wore Levi tracksuits.”(12 Ridiculous Olympic Team Outfits Throughout History; Buzzfeed). The wave of sweats rubbing together come after Levi Strauss & Co. were set to promote their activewear at the Olympics. The results were casually disappointing. 

Team Australia at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain: 


In 1992, the Aussie’s swarmed in a completely different direction. Allow us to introduce the cast of Jurassic Park, or should I say, Team Australia. The Bermuda shorts mixed with the button-up patterned shirts, messy rolled up socks to ankle length with brown dockers and safari hats, the athletes look more inclined to go on a safari than a major gold pillage at the Olympics. 

Team Japan at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia: 

Photo By Getty Images/Clive Brunskill

Japan has never stood out quite like they did at the opening ceremonies in Sydney, Australia. Inspired by the changing of the guards, or the life stages of a caterpillar, the rainbow ombre smocked overcoat over a black-on-black ensemble is confusing. It’s bringing me butterflies emerging from cocoon vibes. I just wish Japan emerged looking ready to compete, instead of looking to fly away. Did Japan’s designer create these with the intention of signaling a metaphor or pay homage to a very bad dream? Whatever you’re trying to tell us, we don’t recommend a rainbow smock for breadcrumbs. 

Team China at the 2008 Olympic Games In Beijing, China: 

Whether team China knows it or not, the men and women at the 2008 Beijing Olympics channeled our favorite condiments: ketchup & mustard. In white fedoras, red neckties for the women and mustard yellow shirts for the men, this ensemble went viral on Twitter alongside a picture of eggs and ketchup. The whole thing seems like an innocent nod to the Chinese flag, but, we can’t help but see breakfast food, and now we’re hungry. China sauced it, I mean, ate it.  

Team Hungary at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing China: 


Team Hungary practically took Tim Gunn’s words literally when he said, “Don’t you think that’s a little too matchy, matchy?” In white suits with bright red ties for the men alongside the abomination of women’s wear, Hungary took accessorizing to a level that can only be described as tournament paint and we weren’t ready for it. While the men look dashing, the women look like targets for a paintball fight. Splatter away. 

Team Sweden at the 2012 Olympic Games In London, England: 

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

In a competition with the highlighter packs at Wal-Mart, Team Sweden shared their point of view at the 2012 London Olympics alongside colorful horizontal striped rugby shirts with khakis. The highlighter yellow stripes update the team from traditional pursuits, however, we can’t help but ask: Steve Are You In There? Horizontal stripes become casual nods towards Blue’s Clues, as we stare at our screens and wait for mail time. 


We end with the best outfits. Feast your eyes on these classic pieces! 

Team Italy at the 1984 Olympic Games In Los Angeles: 

Source: Pinterest

You might have heard the name of this well-known designer that stunned the world at the 1984 Olympic Games. Valentino uniforms decorated the athletes in white trousers and knee-length pleated skirts for the women, fitted blazers and sharp collared shirts and ties. How did the athletes look so good? These uniforms came from Valentino’s fall fashion show, that, despite the black and white photo, we can still appreciate the iconic look as if no time has passed. 

Team Japan at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China:


Japan redeemed themselves at the 2008 Olympics with cool and modern red, white and blue outfits. Red neckties, blue blazers, white skirts and shorts reveal a classic look, even accessorizing with Japanese and Chinese flags. While to the outsider it may look like too many accessories, Japan pulls it off. Surely if you want to look put together, the trend seems to be navy blue or black blazer. 

Team USA at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England: 


 Team USA looked sharp at the 2012 Olympic games in London, wearing a refined style of fitted navy blazers and white cuffed shirts, cream trousers for the men and matching knee length skirts for the women, the navy beret, a striped necktie and neck scarf to accessorize for the women. 

Classic and refined style have become a staple to Team USA’s uniform following Ralph Lauren’s influence. While some years with the designer are questionable, this look dreams of coffee shops in France meets English school yard picnics and we can’t get enough. Some have declared it an atrocity for the Ralph Lauren name, we’re endorsing it. 

Team Netherlands 2012 London, England: 


We lost ourselves for a moment in the frat party at Syracuse University, oh wait, that’s team Netherlands. But, somehow pairing the blue trench coats with orange pants really worked for them at the 2012 London Olympics. Underneath the trench, athletes sported a sweater revealing a button-up and tie, the team looks really put together. To quote SDF on Yahoo, “You can’t pull off orange pants. I can’t pull off orange pants. Only Dutch athletes can pull off orange pants.”(SDF; We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. 

Team India at the 2012 London Olympic Games:

As I reflect on Olympic team ceremony garb, I have to wonder, what is my infinity with navy blue blazers? I can’t put my finger on it. Team India also came to slay with canary yellow colors to compliment the athletes .We like the modern style mixed with the traditional sari and turban look. Sometimes we wish more teams would create a presentation so new age and traditional. 

Team Nigeria at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England:

Source: Pinterest 

As we lament the strange fashion choices of the worst opening ceremony outfits of all time, Nigeria stuns in white and green garb and we can’t help but wonder if these outfits will make a resurgence on the fashion assembly line sometime soon. The green and white dresses with matching green turbans look elegant with the men’s white on white ensemble. We salute the team’s simplicity, there is just something about it that works. 


Reflecting on the opening ceremony fashion choices at the Summer Olympic games past and present, we wonder what other countries have planned for this year. We remember the good and bad decisions that come and go with each Olympic tide and we leave you with the question, is it better to stay safe in predictable, classic pieces or stand out and be remembered for an atrocity? 

Fashion is a testament to how we express ourselves. For years the Olympic Games have fostered this necessity to be seen on a variety of different levels. This year, we leave wondering if Team USA’s most recent announcement to incorporate polo again is just replaying a broken record?