Women’s gymnastics is coming to an end, but before we bid adieu to the sport for another four years, let’s recap one of the aspects that makes it such an exciting sport to watch – the sparkly uniforms. And yes, we would love to talk about men’s gymnastics uniforms as well, but they’re just so boring. (Although apparently the male gymnasts would actually like to be objectified and have even suggested competing with their shirts off – that would give us something to talk about in 2020).
Firstly, let’s congratulate Team USA on dominating women’s gymnastics yet again – not only did they win the team gold, but Simone Biles and Aly Raisman took gold and silver respectively in the individuals. But also, so many outfit changes! No one had so many leotard options as they did, and fortunately they were good ones this year, especially the ones Team USA wore to pick up gold in the team finals. We’re sorry to say, but the stars and stripes can go very tacky, very fast – here however the asymmetrical sleeves and liberal use of sparkles instead of literal stars give the flag iconography an updated look. The amount of crystals has increased with each Olympics, to the point where by 2028 we expect they’ll be so glittery you’ll be able to see the gymnasts jumping and spinning from space. And if you still think it’s silly to discuss bedazzled onesies, remember that these bedazzled onesies can cost in the quadruple digits.
Canada is serious this year, y’all. There were few bells and whistles on the leotards Ellie Black and Isabela Onyshko wore to represent Canada in the individual finals, just sleek black with some tasteful bedazzling and a simple maple leaf. When did Canada become so chic? Must be the influence of Trudeau. We may see more black leotards in the future if Team Canada’s look is any indication of trends to come.
Brazil kept things surprisingly low-key this year – or a low-key as a shiny onesie can be. The host country didn’t even make use of its signature vibrant colors like yellow and green, opting for a royal blue and purple for the final rounds of the team and individual competitions. Maybe they knew they weren’t going to steal the spotlight in this event and didn’t want to look too flashy. But though Brazil didn’t make the podium, we’ll all remember Rebeca Andrade’s floor routine set to Beyoncé for years to come.
Belgium knows its colors are not the liveliest, so who can blame them for ditching the look of their flag and going for some rainbow ribbons on their leotards? Sure, this particular color combo is a little late 80s/early 90s, the kind of thing you might wear with a fanny pack and a scrunchie, but they’re fun and make surprisingly good use of illusion netting.
Ok, now this is a late 80s/early 90s look. Tennis ball-yellow and neon pink are not exactly the color that comes to mind when you think of Germany, but they definitely chose a color scheme probably no one else will be wearing at the Olympics.
Japan does the best leotards. Both their leotards for the team and individual finals were graphic and bold – a very different aesthetic from the prevailing love of sparkles on most competitors. The sleek flower design on their leotard for the team finals managed to avoid tweedom, while the black and red design Mai Murakami and Asuka Teramoto wore in the individual finals was one of the most eye-catching looks on display.
It takes a lot of guts to wear orange spandex in front of the entire world, but then the Dutch are no stranger to fluorescent colored athletic wear (must be tough to be an elite Dutch athlete if orange is not your color). They always stand out at sporting events in their electric orange uniforms and gymnastics was no exception.
We already saw Team Great Britain’s Stella McCartney-designed looks when the uniforms debuted a few months ago, and now we get to see them in leotard form. The Union Jack and British crest are deployed tastefully here, with a simple white backdrop and restrained use of sequins. Could there be a few more sequins to jazz up the look? Sure, but as we all know by now, there could always be more sequins.
China wore its signature red earlier in the competition, but switched to a striking black and white for the individual finals. Black and white aren’t common choices for leotards, but clearly they were a burgeoning trend this year, and they make for a surprisingly grown up look on athletes that often look like they could be all of 13.
Like Belgium, France was feeling the illusion netting this year. The looks Marine Brevet and Louise Vanhille wore for the individual finals were all about the fancy sleeves, with delicate red, white and blue ribboning up their arms – a nice way to differentiate themselves from that other team in red, white and blue.