A visual history of Winter Olympic style from the very beginning

  • 1924 - Chamonix, France

    The first Olympic Winter Games took place in 1924, over 80 years after the magic of photography was invented. That means it's possible for us to take a photographic look back at each and every event, beginning with the inaugural competition that took place in Chamonix, France.  Pictured above is Great Britain's curling team, looking dapper in coordinating sweaters and caps.  Even in the early days, efforts were made to appear uniform.

    Photo courtesy of Agence Rol

  • 1928 - St. Moritz, Switzerland

    The United States established its uniform design early on, and returned to the same stars-and-stripes emblem, seen here, for years to come. The crest is proudly displayed across the chest of speed skater John O'Neil Farrell.

    Photo courtesy of IOC Olympic Museum, Switzerland

  • 1928 - St. Moritz, Switzerland

    It might surprise you to see that the traditional Parade of Nations was already in practice back in 1928.  In this instance, the Switzerland team is marching into the opening ceremony, their style reflecting the fashions of the time, but lacking the bold red-and-white cross design we've come to associate with the Swiss uniforms.

    Photo courtesy of © 1928 / Comité International Olympique (CIO)

  • 1932 - Lake Placid, N.Y.

    Early Olympic style was practical and simple, with many countries choosing to display their patriotism with pins worn on the lapel. Take, for example, this image of Norwegian skier Hans Vinjarengen.

    Photo courtesy of International Newsreel

  • 1936 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

    You get a sense of each country's winter style from their podium ensembles.  Seen here are the winning figure skaters, (from left to right) Cecilia Colledge from Great Britain, Sonja Henie from Norway, and Vivi-Anne Hultén from Sweden.

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  • 1948 - St. Moritz, Switzerland

    In this image, you can see the spirit of the Olympics really shine through, with two athletes from different countries joining together for a bit of fun and practice before competition.  You might recognize the symbol on Barbara Ann Scott's sweater as the Canadian maple leaf, an icon used early on by the Canadian team.  

    Photo courtesy of Toronto Sun

  • 1948 - St. Moritz, Switzerland

    One might guess that 1948 was when the Olympic athlete uniforms really started to come together, as proven by the smart appearance of the Denmark team, complete with sleek matching jackets and sweaters.

    Photo courtesy of © 1948 / Comité International Olympique (CIO)

  • 1952 - Oslo, Norway

    These two Dutch Olympians proudly show off their homeland's crest as part of the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo.  Though the host nation of Norway would prove dominant that year, the Netherlands were still very much a force to be reckoned with, winning three silver medals in Men's Speed Skating.

    Photo courtesy of Nationaal Archief

  • 1956 - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

    U.S. pairs figure skaters wear the other American uniform design in 1956.  This one deviates from the stars and stripes, looking much more like a collegiate sweater with the letters "USA" boldly embroidered on the front.

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  • 1960 - Squaw Valley, Calif.

    The 1960 American uniform, seen here on speed skater Ross Zucco, makes use of both aforementioned designs.  See the "USA" embroidery still present on the front of the sweater and the stars and stripes worn on the sleeve.  Only small changes in U.S. Olympic fashion were made until the 1970s.

    Photo courtesy of UPI

  • 1964 - Innsbruck, Austria

    You can really see the evolution of style when comparing this podium of figure skaters to the one from 1936.  The ensembles are more daring with striking stripes and contrasting colors, seen on (from left to right) Regine Heitzer from Austria, Sjoukje Dijkstra from the Netherlands, and Petra Burka from Canada.

    Photo courtesy of Basch, Fritz / ANEFO / 2.24.01.04, item number 916-0218

  • 1968 - Grenoble, France

    Taking a step into fun fashion territory, Bulgaria marched in the Parade of Nations in icy blue outfits, departing from the expectation that the Olympic uniform should incorporate the colors of the homeland.

    Photo courtesy of © 1968 / Comité International Olympique (CIO)

  • 1972 - Sapporo, Japan

    Evoking regimental regalia, the 1972 U.S. delegation made a statement in their matching red jackets.

    Photo courtesy of © 1972 / Comité International Olympique (CIO)

  • 1976 - Innsbruck, Austria

    Returning to Innsbruck only 12 years later, one can see that the world was in the midst of a fast-moving fashion revolution, with the experimentation of style, as well as the representation of the homeland, playing larger roles in the ceremonial aspects of the games.

    Photo courtesy of © 1976 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / United Archives

  • 1980 - Lake Placid, N.Y.

    Team Italy marched into Lake Placid, bundled in long puffer coats bearing the Italian flag, presenting an equal mix of practicality and patriotism.

    Photo courtesy of © 1980 / Olympia

  • 1984 - Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

    The fashion-forward delegation from Yugoslavia showed off their trendy trench coats and festively colored fedoras when their nation played host to the 1984 games.

    Photo courtesy of © 1984 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / PI, Avelino

  • 1988 - Calgary, A.B.

    On point in their puffer jackets featuring an à la mode graphic print in the country's flag colors, Finland made a stylish impression in Calgary.

    Photo courtesy of © 1988 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / MACKSON, Richard

  • 1992 - Albertville, France

    Always making the first impression as the team that leads the Parade of Nations, Greece sets the style bar with its polished look of matching coats and ties in 1992's games.  Their fur-lined hoods remind you that this is a winter event where the athletes face harsh elements.

    Photo courtesy of © 1992 / Comité International Olympique (CIO)

  • 1994 - Lillehammer, Norway

    Though each country's Olympic uniforms play an important role throughout the games, the outfits worn by its ceremonial participants are just as significant. They highlight the culture and style of the host nation, who has a chance to express itself to the world.

    Photo courtesy of © 1994 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / MAEDER, Jean-Paul

  • 1998 - Nagano, Japan

    In 1998, Chinese Taipei chose to make a splash with vibrant colors from head to toe.

    Photo courtesy of © 1998 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / LOCATELLI, Giulio

  • 2002 - Salt Lake City, Utah

    Conversely, in 2002, the Chinese Taipei delegation played it cool in long, dark coats topped off with ties.  

    Photo courtesy of © 2002 / Kishimoto/IOC / NAGAYA, Yo

  • 2006 - Turin, Italy

    This small group of athletes from Portugal made sure they would't get lost in the crowd, proudly donning modern red gear, a nod towards one of the dominant colors of their country's flag.

    Photo courtesy of © 2006 / Kishimoto/IOC / KISHIMOTO, Tsutomu

  • 2010 - Vancouver, B.C.

    Making a splash in Vancouver in 2010, the Israeli team stood out in their bright blue pants and jackets.  

    Photo courtesy of © 2010 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / JUILLIART, Richard

  • 2014 - Sochi, Russia

    Stirring up a bit of controversy, these Ralph Lauren sweaters worn by Team U.S.A. polarized the nation.  You either loved them or hated them. Either way, they make an impact and there's no mistaking which country you're watching in 2014's Parade of Nations.

    Photo courtesy of U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public Affairs

  • 2018 - Pyeongchang, South Korea

    Ralph Lauren has served as the official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic Committee since 2008.  And it seems like we increasingly feel more anticipation for each unveiling of the uniforms than the last, with every design becoming more detailed and sophisticated.  As you can see, uniform design grew more important to each country's delegation over the years.  The uniforms are now as much about making a statement about one's home nation as they are about simply being able to tell the different teams apart.  And 2018's U.S. uniform represents a celebration of the "American spirit," combining iconic American fashion staples like denim with fun details like fringed gloves.

    Photo courtesy of Weston Wells/Polo Ralph Lauren


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