Uni Watch: Cool gear for 2014 Games

USA Olympic Jackets

The aesthetics of the Olympics are always a tricky proposition. For starters, there's the metallurgy hierarchy: Gold over silver, really? Come on, anyone with taste knows gold is tacky, silver is classy.

And then there's the issue of uniforms. Unlike, say, an NFL or MLB uniform, which is designed to establish a consistent look over a period of years or even decades, an Olympics uniform will typically be seen for only a few days, which creates a different set of design challenges and often leads to flashier designs intended to create bigger visual impact. Case in point: Ralph Lauren has just unveiled Team USA's outfits for the opening ceremonies in Sochi, and they're not exactly subtle.

But there's more to the Olympics than the opening ceremonies, of course. With the Sochi games fast approaching, here's a list of uni-related things to watch for:

1. The Norwegians Are At It Again: As you might recall, the Norwegian curling team caused a sensation at the 2010 Vancouver Games with its seriously loud pants. Four years later, the Norwegians have outdone themselves (further info here). And before you dismiss the whole thing as a joke, keep in mind that the Norwegians won the silver medal in 2010.

2. Collar My World: You know those annoying strips of reinforced fabric you see on the collars of Nike's football jerseys? Nike has come up with something similar for many of the collars of the Olympic hockey jerseys. The bad news is that it looks synthetic and template-y; the good news is that it sort of mimics the look of the classic lace-up collar, which is more than we can say for the detailing on the football collars.

3. Patchwork: Possibly the best accessories of the entire Games will be worn by members of the Canadian ski team, who'll be able to choose from an interchangeable series of very cool shoulder patches -- including one featuring a moose and another featuring a Mountie's cap!

4. Costume or Uniform?: Everyone likes to oooh and ahh over the women's figure skating costumes, but here's a question to ponder: Why can't the figure skaters wear a uniform like everyone else? You know, just a basic team design that everyone from the same country wears. The skaters will tell you that eliminating the costumes would detract from the aesthetics and artistic interpretation of their performances, but that seems like a weak argument. If you stripped away all the rhinestones and glitter and glitz, wouldn't that actually put more emphasis on the skating itself? Something to think about.

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