Team uniforms at the Winter Olympics are meant to reflect patriotism and cultural pride. Based on the online reaction to the release of the Team USA parade uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, they're more like a national eyesore, frequently compared to Christmas sweaters and the fashion sense of comedian Bill Cosby.
Like the events themselves, when it comes to the uniforms, no one wants to run with the pack. All designers craft their athletes' kit with the intention of having their nation's competitors stand out. When regional and national tastes take the international stage, the results can be interesting.
If there were a gold medal for the best style, France could very well be a contender for the gold for their sharp-looking uniforms. Designed by Lacoste, the outfits worn during for opening and closing ceremonies, athletic events and around the Olympic village include the colors of the French flag.
Mexico will be sending one man to the Winter Olympics in Sochi: skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe. At 55, von Hohenlohe likely won't get to the podium in his event, but he'll certainly have his time in the spotlight with this mariachi-themed uniform. Four years earlier at Vancouver, von Hohenlohe had a similarly flamboyant desperado suit, complete with gunbelt and chaps.
The snappy dressers in this photo could easily be mistaken for some kind of psychedelic barbershop quartet. They are, in fact, the Norwegian men's curling team.
The Norwegian team has a history of outlandish uniforms, wearing similarly garish outfits at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 World Curling Championship in Switzerland.
Athletes representing the home country are wearing uniforms that reflect the colors of the Russian flag. Their gloves are a little more colorful, with each finger a different Olympic color.
Sochi Olympic volunteers and staff will be wearing these rainbow-colored uniforms throughout the games. The outfit design are meant to reflect the different regions of Russia, but the colors are evocative of the gay rights movement. The host nation has come under scrutiny over the past year over policies that discriminate against homosexual relationships.
Russian president Vladimir Putin himself tried on the uniform in front of the cameras, though was quick to point out that he didn't design them.
Rainbow uniforms might just be all the rage this year. Germany's Winter Olympic team will be wearing these colorful outfits at the opening ceremonies in Sochi.
Although initially perceived as a political statement in support of gay rights, a spokesperson for the German Olympic Sports Confederation insists that the uniforms are not a protest but simply fashionable.