Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (2024)

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  • Lifestyle
  • Fashion
  • Paris 2024
By Damien Woolnough

Something has gone awry with invitations to the Paris Olympics opening ceremony. The date, venue and guest list are confirmed, but after inspecting the uniforms that have already been unveiled, it seems the dress code is still up in the air.

The French have taken a formal approach, Australia and the United States have gone smart casual, Lederhosen-clad Austrians have opted for national dress and Canadians are coming straight from the gym.

Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (1)

It’s the most confusing collection of fashion statements and questions since Rupert Murdoch wore sneakers with a suit to his fifth wedding in June or Kanye West got dressed this morning.

Here are the preliminary medal rankings, which suggest the shortcut to looking like an Olympian is skipping training and grabbing an old denim jacket from the back of your wardrobe.

Gold

France
Before the first swimmer hits the pool at Paris La Défense Arena, a wounding dent to national pride has taken place. A label started 129-years ago by an Italian was selected to design the uniforms for the French team. Berluti is now owned by French luxury conglomerate and premium partner of the Olympics LVMH, but Italians can raise their espressos with some pride at the stylish result.

Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (2)

Wool and lycra navy tuxedo jackets with ombre lapels featuring the colours of the French flag are appropriately formal for the host country. The only fumble preventing a style world record result are the sleeveless jackets reserved for women, vaguely resembling a luxury car rental uniform. On men, they could be mistaken for the early stages of a stripper costume.

Relentlessly chic former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld consulted on the designs. That’s all.

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Belgium
With male athletes stuck in black bouncer garb, Belgium’s female Olympians will bring glamour to the opening event in red and gold evening wear. Shiny blazer and trouser sets, jumpsuits and an evening gown with cut-outs from Caroline Biss, Belgium’s answer to Perri Cutten, could perform double duty for Bond girl auditions or school formals.

Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (3)

Silver

Czech Republic
The most improved uniform belongs to Czech Olympians, who travelled to Tokyo three years ago in folk art vests and blouses with paper fans, looking ready for a dance routine to the Disney anthem It’s a Small World. For Paris, the Czech’s tapped designer Jan Černý to create white trench coats with splashes of blue, and poppy orange polo shirts. The modern prints transform athletes into potential art students or Smurf surgeons.

Poland
Polish label Bizuu looked to their flag for a white and red collection of double-breasted blazers and summer frocks. The result is perfect for co*cktails at a Saltburn-themed party (just don’t touch the bathwater). Celebrating the team’s 100th anniversary, athletes also receive a lucky charm from jewellery brand Lilou but could just as easily accessorise with an Aperol Spritz.

Ireland
With its blinding white finish and adjustable straps the Irish team uniform blends judo utility with straight-jacket starkness, but remove your Guinness goggles for a closer look.

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New York-based Dubliner Laura Weber uses intricate details to layer the outfits with meaning. Eco-hybrid taffeta made from recycled T-shirts and bottles is embellished with a national badge, shamrock brooch and embroidered sleeve detail nodding to each athlete’s home county.

The uniform defies clichés and reinforces an Irish moment in fashion championed by designers Simone Rochas and Robyn Lynch.

Bronze or denim

United States
Get ready to join the frat pack with Ralph Lauren’s preppy navy blazer, tie and jeans combination for the US team. The striped shirts are perfect for athletes considering future careers in finance, while the eighties wash denim can be saved for line dancing at medal celebrations.

The dress code for this outfit is definitely “bro”.

Chinese Taipei
Check vests and zip turtlenecks add a ski silhouette and rockabilly edge to the boxy double-breasted business suits of Taiwan’s official uniform. Athletes should be prepared to sweat it out in summer temperatures on the Seine.

Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (4)

Carbon capture technology was utilised by designer Justin Chou for the denim blue fabric, with plum flower details on the lapel softening the mod Mao Suit vibe.

Estonia
Designer Reet Aus focused on sustainability with uniforms for Team Estonia, with the double denim ensemble exuding farmer’s market chic. There’s plenty of room for radishes and turnips in the matching denim tote, with the conservative skirt length perfect for the school run at conservative Christian colleges.

Ombre

Australia and Spain
The Australian Olympic uniforms by Sportscraft score serious points for blazers that lean towards teal and away from traffic light green. The Sunday barbecue energy of the relaxed chinos and shorts and white T-shirts balance the preppy tailoring on top, but it’s the pleated skirts that force the creation of an ombre medal category.

Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (5)

The splash of yellow on the skirt suffers from unfortunate placement, made worse by attempts at disguise with a decorative scarf. Spain’s skirt style also suggests the need for toilet training in Olympic preparation.

A league of their own

Canada
While Estonia and Brazil embrace the Canadian Tuxedo, the homeland of double denim still thinks it’s in lockdown and refuses to get off the sofa and out of its athleisure wear.

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Athletes won’t have to worry about finding a working iron in the Olympic village with red on red jackets and draw- cord shorts made with sweat-wicking high-tech jacquard, developed by team outfitter Lululemon.

The pieces, including a bucket hat and crop top, are suited for a hike through the Canadian Rockies or at least around a stadium and will be wasted at the ceremony on the Seine, unless the team are floating on lilos while spitting Drake lyrics.

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Gold, silver and denim: The best and worst Olympic uniforms (2024)

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