2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony: Grading Each Country's Uniform
Despite one snowflake hiccup, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony was a beautiful display of vibrant colors and amazing uniforms. Here is a breakdown of how each country chose to represent itself on one of sports' biggest stages.
From the muted to audacious, the ceremony was well represented from a fashion sense. Let's embark on a brief jaunt around the world from a sartorial vantage point.
Of course, this is just one fan's thoughts on the wardrobe of each country. It's an obvious subjective endeavor, as one man's failure is another's triumph, so feel free to offer your own grades in the comments section below.
Now let's take a close look at all of these wonderful uniforms.
Note: List of countries and names taken from 2014 Sochi Olympic official page. Also, at time of publish, there were no images of Afghanistan's uniforms.
As you will see, my personal belief is that more is better. That means a great deal of the uniforms you might find "ugly" may garner a better grade.
We appreciate Albania's classy red and black look, but the fashion seems safe when you consider some of the flashier fare.
We see you working, Andorra, peppering the night with some fine Cosby sweaters that would be right at home at one of our Christmas parties.
The uniforms are refined if unoriginal. This is something we would be proud to don on a wintry night, knowing we would be comfortable with our fashion.
However, we need something more on what is essentially the red carpet of the Olympics.
Another passing grade for a country that surely looks good but fails to wear one of the more memorable outfits on the night. However, we do have to give some extra points to the hood trim that saves these uniforms in the end.
With such vibrant colors at the ready, Australia could have done a great deal more with the white jackets. However, sometimes less is more.
To that end, the bright yellow peppering the athletes' heads served the country very well as the athletes entered Fisht Olympic Stadium.
The bright red jackets pair so well with the black pants, but the real triumph is the multicolored cap that pulls off a relatively seamless outfit.
We nearly see double from the previous entry by Austria. While we enjoy the brash green with red, we would have liked to see a bit more splash along the jackets.
In some regards, the uniforms seem like something left unfinished—as if there were one more sartorial trinket that could have been featured.
The sea of red continues with a Belarusian uniform that is largely without any of the green that features in the flag. For the most part, it's a wise decision with uniforms that take really just a couple of colors but allow them to stand out.
Like we said, adding some spice to the uniforms can be a treat or a downfall. In Belgium's case, they pull off their uniforms by incorporating color amid a gray and black garb that is hardly muted.
Even the gray patch along the pants serves the uniform well, making the athletes stand out in a very good manner.
If it ain't broke...
Watching Bermuda enter is always a treat as the athletes don their iconic shorts along with a very classy blazer. While other countries decide to keep warm, Bermuda stays true to its roots.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
We finally found the track suit colorway that has been missing from our closet. Bosnia and Herzegovina manages to keep things simple while letting the bright and vivid colors of its flag do the talking.
While we could have used a great deal more of that delectable yellow, the uniforms are still on the right side of fashion.
If you have it, flaunt it. Preparing to open its own Olympiad in 2016, the Winter Olympic contingent of Brazil's athletes shows off some loud but wholly refined uniforms.
Winning the night is sometimes as simple as delivering uniforms that give those fireworks a run for pure entertainment value.
While we can't get over the sting that is a green and red color scheme after the holidays, you have to commend Bulgaria for managing to just about wear its flag—and wear it well.
We can't really say anything bad about our friendly neighbors to the north, and that sentiment continues with what they chose to wear for the Opening Ceremony.
You don't need a swath of colors to make a strong sartorial statement. Here, black is used to accentuate the outfit rather than take away. From the snaps on the jacket to the simple but profound caps, there isn't a great deal not to like.
We really struggled with this grade. In 2012, the Cayman Islands chose to go with festive suits, but this time around they decided to just throw on what can best be described as winter beach wear.
We don't want to fail any country, especially as they honor their roots how they see fit, and a certain part of us certainly adores this look. However, perhaps they leave the flip-flops at the hotel next time.
There isn't anything all that ostentatious about this wardrobe, which is a good thing. There isn't anything all that remarkable either, though.
That said, we give the Chilean contingent extra credit for wearing shoes unlike the previous country.
Like many other countries, China chose to don a traditional look. While it certainly looks grand from afar with all of the athletes shown, we wished the clothes could have been a bit more bold.
As you will see, we are suckers for long coats. However, these particular jackets cover up what we only have to assume are pretty nifty pants.
Let that audacious blue color scheme breathe a little more.
We really wanted to dock Croatia for taking it easy; the entire ensemble is far too quiet for the nation's colors.
With that said, it's hard not to like the stylish jackets that absolutely pop thanks to just a hint of brightness along the shoulders.
Sadly, these uniforms look like something you might find hanging on a ski shop rack. And when you do, you move on by.
Fashion, much like fortune, favors the bold. Now we are getting somewhere with the warm hats everyone seems to be enjoying. When in Russia, don the largest cap you can find.
We give extra points for incorporating some fantastic logos into the entire ensemble.
We rather love what Denmark has here. However, the uniforms suffer from the fact Team Canada walked around the stadium wearing a bolder and far more memorable scheme earlier in the night.
Not quite sure where to go with this one. It's like the athletes are in some lavish sci-fi movie that is equal parts Tron and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
"Yeah, we are going to walk into the stadium wearing pretty much nothing but white, and you are going to like it."
We do have to find out where to get our literal hands on those gloves.
Surprisingly, the night didn't feature all that many scarves around the athletes. Oh sure, you see them now and again, but it's rarely a focal point of the outfit.
Finland, we doff our hat in the direction of those stylish and undoubtedly warm items around your necks.
Now see, this is what we're talking about here. The perfectly tailored jackets almost sit like blazers on each athlete.
Couple that with matching cap and scarf, and you have one of the best uniforms on the night.
As it were, you can never have too much red. It's always astonishing how many countries utilize the color only to get new and interesting outfits every time.
If there is one thing that sold us on the entire wardrobe, it might be the ivy caps worn by the male athletes.
You knew it was coming.
Despite your thoughts on Germany's brash uniforms, you simply have to agree that they are the most unforgettable of nearly 90 countries.
By the time the next Winter Games kick off, we will still be talking about the uniforms that reportedly honor the Sochi area.
Great Britain gives us uniforms certainly worthy of praise, but they fall just short of outfits worn by the likes of France and Canada.
Ah yes, uniforms only Papa Smurf would enjoy.
Granted, that's a tad harsh, but we have seen so many countries commit to one avenue and pull it off far better.
Hong Kong, China
Again, we have another contingent that will largely get overlooked, and that's a shame. Because we liked what Leonardo DiCaprio wore in the snow scene in Inception.
We are just glad Hungary chose to use a little bit of color in its uniform, or we may have missed this contingent completely.
It's almost like Great Britain's wardrobe spawned a clone, and it was just a wee bit more dull. It would be like the movie Multiplicity, but with clothes.
Independent Olympic Participants
Shiva Keshavan, Himanshu Thakur and Nadeem Iqbal represent the 2014 contingent of Independent Olympic Participants, showing off their personalities with unique outfits for the ceremony.
Each one decided to make his own first impression on the world, and not one of them fails.
We gave points for adding a great deal of color but ultimately docked Iran for failing to grasp the obvious and coming in dressed exactly like Luigi of Super Mario Bros.
They were so close.
This borders on disaster, but we absolutely love the fact Ireland decided to take time away from its paintball game to walk around the stadium.
If you were wondering, the theme here is blue: blue on the jacket, blue on the pants, and because there is always room for fun, light blue on the ankles.
We might just have a case for best hoods in the stadium. I can look past the meticulously lined suits when the hoodie is nearly your nation's flag.
There is entirely too much black in these outfits. When your nation is renowned for its Opening Ceremony colors, we need to see more.
However, there is the very real possibility that Jamaica hasn't received all of its luggage yet. Consider this extra credit.
Just the smallest tweak can matter. Issues we had with Hong Kong's wardrobe are solved by solid coats that hang low, bringing style into the mix without having to lean on color.
You know those marshmallow Peeps you see in the stores around Easter? Yeah, now we suddenly can't get the memory of that taste out of our mouths, and that's not a good thing.
We don't have any snarky quips for these classy uniforms. Then again, they don't quite move the fashion needle either.
The good news is you get to walk out with a sweet scarf. The bad news is you resemble Kool-Aid's zany cousin.
The only thing Latvia's athletes worried about, apparently, was losing one another. Now they get to come together and form a giant human Dorito.
If there was ever a Baywatch: Winter Edition, it would most definitely get filmed along the Sochi shores. Thankfully, we found the uniforms for that show.
Hurry, because Liechtenstein has a number of kids' parties to perform at right after the ceremony.
We probably should have warned you to put on some sunglasses before this slide. Suddenly, we have a hankering for lime sherbet. Thankfully for Lithuania, we love lime sherbet.
This is the uniform equivalent of getting grounded when you were a kid. It's serious, stern and not all that fun. This was dangerously close to "C-" territory—but then we found the best mustache of the night in the delegation.
Please excuse Malta, as its athletes might be mistaken for staff. Nothing to see here.
I might be biased, but that's just because I'm biased. These are the awesome outfits I imagine mariachis use when they are just taking it easy on Sundays.
Love the all-black look with the white underneath. Just in case you had any doubt that Monaco should not be messed with.
Bold choice from Mongolia with the bright blue hats, gloves and scarves, but I dig it. With the yellow underneath, you might mistake this delegation for Sweden if there were more than six athletes.
It looks like Montenegro grabbed my snow pants from seventh grade. These would have been the coolest in the '90s. Now they're just OK.
I really like Morocco's stuff. The sharp lines, the bright colors...it's great. And it's made even better by the guys wearing it clearly having the best time of their lives.
Bros, the poofy jackets? Really? Between that and the mismatched headgear, it's not really that great.
You just knew the Netherlands would show up with their custom orange, and they didn't disappoint. This is an awesome look, and I want one of those beanies!
Not to be confused with Old Zealand. I'm actually a pretty big fan of the black top and white bottom jackets. If there was only a little something more to go with it.
Those hats...I just don't really know what to do about those hats. It's like Newsies set in the future. The rest of the outfit is not so bad—I kind of enjoy the blue pants with red zippers—but I just can't get past the hats.
Clearly Pakistan dressed for form over fashion. They're just trying to stay warm, folks.
The flag bearer may stand alone, but she certainly makes up for it with a simple but classy outfit. The long coat, white pants and boots are at home for traipsing around Sochi nightlife or honoring your country at the ceremony.
I'm taking off points for lack of coordination, but look at those pants that woman is wearing, you guys. Those are glorious. Are those eyes around the knee? I don't even know what to think right now.
The Philippines look like they got their outfits last night at North Face. Just bland, and the jacket doesn't even fit the dude on the left.
I love the jackets that look like sweaters. The snowflake design is sweet as hell. Nice job, Poland. Coming strong with the snowflakes!
What's with the unnecessary pockets, Portugal? You have like 16 of them on the front of your jacket. And we're not even going to talk about that green swoop pointing to your belly buttons. We're just not going to.
Republic of Moldova
You know what, the Republic of Moldova gets an A. I've never heard of it before, and it looks like just one person. He probably picked out the outfit himself, and he loves it. So I love it too. You do you, Republic of Moldova.
Romania went simple with the black outfits and white caps, and then it tried to throw in color by just waving a bunch of flags. Sorry, not gonna cut it for me, Romania. Either incorporate color into your look or do nothing at all.
Strong, strong showing from the home team. I need one of those jackets in my closet immediately. That is awesome. Half of the Sochi budget probably went into those coats. Worth it.
This is a pretty boring look. Not a lot going on. About what you would expect from San Marino. Just kidding, I love you guys. Your outfits need work though.
I'm going to abandon my puffy jacket bias for Serbia here. I kind of like it. It might be the scarf in the front and the hats that do it, but this look is just great. And I love the white jacket for the female member. Very nice touch.
Nice showing from Slovakia. The jackets are pretty stylish, and the guys get black pants while the girls get white. Better than if they would have gone the opposite. Overall, pretty strong.
Did one person design the left side and another person do the right? Who thought it was a good idea to throw some random neon green in there for just one sleeve? I'm OK with things being uneven, but this just missed. Tim Gunn would have advised against that.
Spain went for classy instead of warm. I respect that. These are just Olympic outfits, not Winter Olympic outfits. I'm cool with it.
Sweden, those jackets are great. Somebody tell Slovenia that's how you do uneven design. The askew zipper looks great, and I love the bright burst of yellow underneath and in the scarves.
Switzerland, come on. The Winter Olympics are your thing, man. You gotta come stronger than this. This is just a boring look. We've all seen the red jackets. Nothing new there.
A decent look from Tajikistan. A little dated, but I'll give out some bonus points over Switzerland for at least trying to do something with all that red.
This is OK, but I'm kind of turned off by how the jackets just look like a cross. Plus I'm docking them points for lack of coordination. Camaraderie matters!
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Nice job with the two kinds of jackets. Fun design. I wouldn't expect anything less from The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
I like the under-the-jacket scarf look. Kind of cool. The rest of the outfit is nothing to write home about, but it just seems pretty hip to me.
You go, Togo! These outfits are fun, and the Santa hats kick it into another gear. Very well done.
You know how sometimes minor league baseball teams will have some weird promotion where they wear stupid jerseys with weird prints on them? That's what Tonga's look reminds me of. Could have done without the busy design and palm trees.
Tight, fresh look from Turkey. Classic, but with a hint of color. As you have seen by now, there is a good way and a wrong way to play it simple.
We now know who Ireland was playing against in paintball. We love the fact that Ukraine incorporated a design into the mix. It's just unfortunate that it chose this one.
United States of America
The U.S. received flak for uniforms some found a bit audacious. Well, this Ralph Lauren-styled wardrobe is pure class, and I don't care what you say.
Resting atop cream-colored shirts and pants is a cardigan sweater that screams patriotism. We just wish they found room to design a "'Merica!" into the mix.
On the bright side, these uniforms can double as bowling league outfits if these athletes so choose to switch up their sport.
It would be easy to knock the outfits, especially considering they may have been ripped from Rainbow Brite's closet. However, I can't stop smiling at these, and I mean that in a good way.
Virgin Islands, British
Scarf? Check. Classy green jacket that would win points the second you enter the pub? Check. Magical beanie that we are now extremely jealous of not owning? Yeah, they have that too.
Virgin Islands, US
It's not the most courageous outfit of the night, but you will hardly find one more stylish. The cream-colored coat and boots make this flag bearer a champion before the night is out.
Now if Lebanon doesn't steal the role on Baywatch: Winter Edition like we offered previously, Zimbabwe can swoop in and claim it.
Congratulations on red coats that are red.