Fashions of Olympic Proportions

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics is tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I have had a love/hate relationship with Olympics my whole life.  As a kid, I loved the interesting [to me] events, like gymnastics, figure skating, and track.  However, it always bothered me that an entire television station was essentially blocked out for the duration of the games.  Living in a house without cable only compounded the effect.  I also like camaraderie of the games, the whole “Yeah, we hate each other, but what say we all get together and play some games?” feeling.

One thing the Olympics are good for is fashion.  Remember Björk’s dress in the 2004 opening ceremony? Nuts!  Fashion helps us identify with a team.  How about the moment in Cool Runnings when John Candy reveals the matching uniforms to the Jamaican bobsled team?  You know you got choked up and rooted for Jamaica.  Everyone knows that sporting events are no fun to watch if you don’t care about which team wins.  With the Olympics, it’s easy, because even if they aren’t over-the-top patriotic, almost everyone has a team: you will probably root for your country to win. Those teams represent us. The outcry about the American uniforms having been made in China illustrates this beautifully.  I think deep down people were actually more upset about how perfectly our Olympians represented the clothing most Americans wear.

Scandal aside, what does one wear to support USA in its Olympic endeavors?  If you had spent some time in Germany over the past year, you would more than prepared.  Just look at this scarf I bought:

How about this store window in Lübeck?

And this example:

Have I gone super-patriotic on you? No. Do all Germans just love America?  Wrong again! The American flag is hot in Deutschland right now. I bought that scarf because I wanted to be on trend in Germany.  Women’s fashion in Germany is built around the scarf, and, somehow, the ole stars and bars have become popular for purely aesthetic reasons. (It was also sort of ironic for me to wear it around, and it made my friends laugh.)  I admit I didn’t quite get it. Why wear someone else’s flag?  Primary red and blue aren’t colors that most people combine for fashion. It finally clicked when I walked past a bunch of kids wearing British flag T-shirts one day.  Of course!  We do that in the US all the time.  I remember seeing keffiyehs, or what a friend dubbed “Yasser Arafat scarves,” all over the place in Freiburg in 2003-4.  They may have been pro-Palestine, but now I think it’s more likely that they thought black and white patterns look cool.  Alles klar.

For me, of course, this trend worked out perfectly. I got to get some unique USA gear to cheer for my teams as they go for the gold in London.

Fire up US Women’s Soccer!!!


About heidihefeweizen

I am a 29 year-old American woman who has received a Fulbright scholarship to work as an English teaching assistant in a German high school.
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3 Responses to Fashions of Olympic Proportions

  1. kathleen says:

    Um, stars and bars? I am going to assume the confederate flag didn’t make it all the way across the pond and you just mean the normal flag. Hilarious! Who knew Germans loved Ami iconography so much. Those leggings are amazing. And good point about the union jack thing… and the scarves. What else did you bring home?

  2. Steve says:

    Wearing colors and iconography from elsewhere…Is that like hipsters wearing Che Guevara on a T-shirt? On an Olympic note: more on the treatment of women. The World Cup winning Japanese women’s soccer team was given tickets to fly coach from Japan to London…the men’s team (having not won anything) flew business class ON THE SAME FLIGHT!

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