U.S. Olympic Team unveils look for opening ceremony

This product image released by Ralph Lauren shows U.S. Olympic athletes — from left, swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts — in Team USA opening-ceremony parade uniform. ASSOCIATED PRESS

SO WE NEED to talk about the hat. Tuesday morning, Ralph Lauren unveiled the look that the U.S. Olympic team will wear at the London games' opening ceremonies later this month. The men will wear navy double-breasted blazers, with a red-and-navy tie and cream-colored flat-front pants. Ladies get a knee-length cream skirt, paired with a single-breasted blazer and a red, white and blue scarf.


But here's the problem: Both genders are saddled with a beret, complete with red-and-white stripe.

What is it about the Olympic Games that make designers think: berets? Will the London air be so chilly when our Olympians arrive later this month that they need proper headgear? This is now the second time in recent history when athletes have had to wear berets: During the 2002 Winter Olympics, they wore powder-blue ones.

Maybe we're just a bit xenophobic when it comes to our headgear, but don't berets strike you as a wee bit … well … French? Worse, the beret has a vaguely militaristic vibe — a black beret is standard-issue headgear in the U.S. Army, after all—which is not really how the Olympics jive. Why not go for a good ol' American hat: a red, white and blue Stetson, perhaps, or something in a nice shade of coonskin? Sure, that would be horribly tacky, but isn't that the American way?

At least in 2008 Ralph Lauren gave the Olympians an oversize newsboy cap, which we assumed was some kind of warped homage to a great American: Samuel L. Jackson.

Of course, the look features an iconic Ralph Lauren logo that is displayed almost as prominently as the Olympic patch, and what could be more American than branding and product placement?

Finally, for what it's worth, we like the double-breasted look. Very Don Draper. Although we don't think the "Mad Men" main character is fit for any sort of competition, unless the newest Olympic sport is drinking whiskey and looking handsome. n


Contact Molly Eichel at 215-854-5909 or eichelm@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @mollyeichel.