For some, the Olympics Opening Ceremony (this Friday night!) is space filler until we get to the real action. For others its a chance to see a giant variety show performed for the world. Personally, we like it because it’s a fantastic geography lesson. There are always countries we didn’t even know about, strutting through the arena in amazing traditional costumes — or not. Yeah, the uniforms chosen for opening night are really hit or miss — sometimes beautiful fashion statements, sometimes spectacular fails, sometimes just boring and formal. And as we looked through the archives of photos going back to the 1908 Olympics, also in London, we realized this has always been so.
Some countries, like France, Switzerland and Sweden, manage to clothe their athletes in stylish formalwear. Others, like the U.S. and the U.K., can’t seem to decide whether to put their teams in blazers or track suits. We like when smaller delegations from countries like Mongolia and Mauritania go for traditional costumes, taking advantage of this world stage to show off their unique cultures. But it’s unfortunate when others, like Hungary, Poland, Russia and Australia, try to get a bit too creative when putting their own spin on the uniforms. Take a look at our 25 favorite examples in the gallery below:
By the way, we think the Ralph Lauren-designed blue-blazer-and-white-pants/skirt combo for 2012’s Team USA will look good on the whole team — but what exactly do they say about our country? “Never mind the recession; we will always have yacht clubs!” Anyway, we can’t wait for Friday!
[Photos: Getty Images]