Jul 19 2012

It’s not the beret, it’s how you wear it

I’ve not sure which thing the American mainstream media is more incensed about; the fact that the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team’s Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms are made in China, or the fact that the opening ceremony ensemble includes a beret.

Now the “Made in China” issue is a total red herring as far as I’m concerned. The U.S. Olympic Committee relies on private corporate sponsorship to dress the team, which makes it somewhat nervy for federal officials in particular to get bent out of shape over the manufacturing location. Chinese labor is a bargain and corporations are in the business of making money so they can spend as much of it as they like on U.S. elections, remember? Besides, the Team USA uniforms for both the 2008 and 2010 games were made abroad and I can’t recall there being a big stink about it then.

The uniforms themselves are typical Ralph Lauren country club fare. I personally think cream-coloured slacks are an embarrassing-stain-waiting-to-happen, but then again I’m a bit of a slob at times.

As for the reaction to the “jaunty beret,” am I the only American who actually *likes* them? Maybe I’ve been living in Europe for too long (though berets are not exactly de rigueur in Sweden, either), but I think this guy looks pretty hot.

If there’s anything cheesy about the ensemble it’s the HUGE Ralph Lauren Polo logo on left chest. Yikes, that pony is big enough to ride.

Of course there is a well-established tradition of US Olympic athletes wearing berets. (Who can forget the boxy and widely derided Torino version?) I maintain that the problem isn’t the beret, but rather that Americans just don’t know how to wear one unless they happen to be members of an elite branch of U.S. military forces (in which case they get training for it.) Clearly the team members who modeled them for NBC’s Today Show had not received any instructions what-so-ever.

Can you say doofy-looking? As long as athletes are going to plonk the things on their heads like this, it’s no wonder everybody hates them.

In the future, I think the honor of providing the uniforms for the US Olympic Team should include hiring a couple of stylists to teach the athletes how to wear them.

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Feed my ego!

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