As far as sport unis go, the Olympic Games are the clear gold medalist, and for good reason. A breadth of different competitions, formal ceremonies cap-ending the games, and even the goings-on at the Olympic Village require a flurry of get-ups, and if you multiply that by the hundreds of countries participating, it makes perfect sense that there were bound to be some quality ‘fits over the course of the modern-day Olympics’ nearly 100-year history (the Games as we know them began in 1924).
But how best to judge the audacious volume of superb looks from the Winter Games? Is it sheer style? Sensible functionality? Nationalistic spirit? Or maybe even a “wow” factor? We think all of the above are important for the best Games’ garb, which is why we’ve pulled and graded our favorite (i.e., the best) world-class outfits. From cowboy hats to speed suits, Vera Wang to Ralph Lauren, browse the best Winter Olympic outfits of all time below.
USA Olympic Medal Ceremony Outfits, Winter Olympics 1984
Wow Factor: A+
Red, white and blue. Levi’s branded. A goddamn cowboy hat. It doesn’t get much more loud and proud than the US-of-A’s medal looks at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Is a wide-collared snowsuit a bit much? Perhaps. Does the whole look (hair included) scream ’80s? absolutely? Do we care? Not one bit.
Japan Mizuno Speed Skating Suits, Winter Olympics 2010
Wow Factor: A
Speed suits and the like need to be taken at face value — Olympic uniforms are very much a function-over-form judgment call, and who could blame them — and all things considered, Japan’s gold and black kit is one of the best in memory. Eye-catching without being an eyesore, tastefully graphic-ed: the whole thing is “Frozone” meets fashion runway.
USA and Canada Hockey Captains, Winter Olympics 1932
Wow Factor: B
There’s a real old-school charm to the tasteful side-parts and good-sportsman sensibilities going on here, but we’re much more interested in the quarter-zip and “Winnipeg’s” crewneck. Despite closing in on 100 years old, both look like they could be straight out of a Noah NY F/W lookbook. If that’s not the definition of timeless, we don’t know what is.
Norway Curling Team’s Argyle Pants, Winter Olympics 2010
Wow Factor: A+
Curling is a complex sport; the men and women who play it (slide it? curl it? bop it?) surely contain multitudes. But no one expected the stone-throwing spectacle to exude this much swagger, especially from a Scandinavian team. Forgoing the Nordic minimalism (a gross over-exageration, but you understand) for a pair trousers so outrageous they make viking’s daily wear seem tame, the Norwegians made a bold choice, and one that paid dividends. The bowling-esque shoes and solid red polos mean that the pants are the focal point, rather than just another part of a clownish ensemble.
SKIMS x Olympics, Winter Olympics 2022
Wow Factor: C
When Skims announce their Olympic collection, we were skeptical. After all, collab after failed collab has taught us to be wary of any hyped collection and its potential to suck. But, a tip of the cap to Ms. Kardashian, we were dead wrong. Olympian after Olympian have expressed their admiration and praise for America’s 2022 loungewear, and we’re inclined to agree — the fleeces look … fleecy, everything is flattering, and there seems to have been a real attempt at form and function (take that, speed suits).
Michelle Kwan’s Vera Wang Slip Dress, Winter Olympics 1998
Wow Factor: A-
Michelle Kwan captured the hearts of a nation with her figure skating performances over a storied career, and her 1998 medal performance is perhaps her most iconic look. The periwinkle slip, simple and elegant, was a departure from some of the more theatrical skating get-ups, and the Vera Wang thang perfectly matched Kwan’s routine.
USA Pre-Olympics Team Outfits, Winter Olympics 1968
Wow Factor: D
A sweater? A jacket? A swacket, or something like that? It’s hard to tell what the buttoned mock-neck outerwear is, exactly, but we’re captivated by the United State’s X Olympic outfits for Grenoble, France. Part military brass, part ivy prep, and very, very Kennedy’s America, the outfits are a fascinating look at a gone-but-not-forgotten slice of history.
Jamaica Bobsled Team’s Press Conference Jackets, Winter Olympics 1988
Wow Factor: A
Do we really need to explain how baller every part of the Jamaican bobsled team’s press ‘fits were? You have eyes.
The USA “Miracle on Ice” Uniforms, Winter Olympics 1980
Wow Factor: B
“Best” doesn’t necessarily have to mean stylish, although the hockey equivalent of the Dream Team’s uniforms do well enough with retro branding and shoulder stars. The real clout lies with the incredible victory at the 1980 Lake Placid Games against a stacked U.S.S.R. side.
Korea FILA Speed Skating Suits, Winter Olympics 2002
Wow Factor: ?
Perhaps the boldest look of the Olympics that actually works, Korea’s 2002 speed suits are the opposites of the aforementioned Japanese joints — they’re loud, and on purpose. Created by Italian sportswear brand FILA, it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes the skintight uniform gold-medal worthy: after all, the “primary colors only” palette and side-striped pattern feel like they could be found on a small boy’s dinosaur tee at Walmart. But like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, “I know it when I see it.” Bonus points for the causal glasses during a very not-casual event.
Shaun White’s Burton Snowboarding ‘Fit, Winter Olympics 2010
Wow Factor: A+
MF-ing Shaun “I’m talking ’bout Mountain Dews, baby” White. The king of the halfpipe pulled no punches in celebrating his gold medal run in 2010; the flannel-checked Burton Puffer, the very of-the-times washed jeans, and of course, the iconic stars bandana holding back arguably the best head of hair in winter sports. There is nothing this man cannot do.