Preppy is the look for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. On Tuesday, the ensembles Ralph Lauren designed for our athletes were revealed. The navy blazers and white bottoms will be worn while U.S. athletes parade into the Opening Ceremony stadium.
The men will be decked out in double-breasted blazers, a red, white, and blue tie, a white button-front shirt, and white shoes. The women will be wearing a blazer, a white, button-front shirt, a white, knee-length skirt, a red, white, and blue scarf, and white shoes and socks. Both men and women will wear blue berets. The Ralph Lauren polo logo is prominent on both the blazer and the beret.
I’m not sure how I feel about these outfits. There is no doubt that Lauren was channeling East coast prep, and while the look is definitely American, I have trouble understanding how it is representative of the whole U.S.A. I feel prep constitutes a small percentage of U.S. style and insufficiently sums up the look of American sports. There is something troubling when American style is condensed into a look that originates from primarily white, wealthy elites.
I realize dressing our athletes is a huge conundrum to undertake. Do I have a better solution to what they should wear? Off the top of my head, I don’t. American style is wide ranging. There are many American looks (prep, western, Hollywood, hippie, etc.), but nothing immediately comes to mind as being representative of the whole country touching on all socio, economic, and cultural groups. But shouldn’t our best minds in fashion and apparel design be able to create something that is more inclusive than this?
However, the athletes will look sophisticated, so at least we can take solace in that even if the ensembles aren’t a good representation.
Unfortunately they put them in those silly berets again. Honestly, I’d rather they marched in wearing cowboy hats than berets. When has the beret ever been a major element of American style?
UPDATE: And then there’s all the controversy that the uniforms were made in China. Members of Congress and many critics are saying the uniforms should have been made in the United States. But those who are arguing that the uniforms could have been made in the country for the same price clearly don’t understand the status of the American textile industry. Maybe if Congress wants to ensure that manufacturing isn’t outsourced, they wouldn’t force our Olympic team to rely so heavily on corporate sponsors who do things their own way.