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August 10, 2008


Is this for real?!

@Val, yes, it's for real. Sadly.

I bitched about this in comments at Daily Kos and was roundly called out for being "the clothing police." That's their official team uniform and Bush visited them while they were practicing. How dare I suggest that they cover up?

It seems that the beach volleyball uniforms have caused controversy before. Look, it's a free country and I am fine with folks dressing (or not dressing) as they please. I live in Oakland, for crying out loud, and I spent my formative years on the Lower East Side during the days of safety pins in cheeks and blue hair. But near nakedness is not appropriate attire for meeting heads of state, unless you are from an indigenous tribe and your ceremonial, formal costume involves such.

I guess the argument is that beach volleyball's ceremonial garb is the wedgy bikini. I still say those women need to wear some board shorts at least.

I'll add that when I was 20 I was built like a volleyball player, female division, and I did NOT go around exposing my ass to powerful old men, nor did I wear my little jog tops to work or public occasions. Beach and work-out wear is not appropriate for meeting the President.

Back again to the point - the President should have stayed out of the beach volleyball pen until the women were done practicing and had a chance to get some clothes on. Once again he has made a laughingstock of the office.

I actually think Olympic cheerleading duties are the one thing Bush is suited for! It's nice to see him at the basketball and swimming competitions.

I thought for sure that during the Opening Cermonies the cameras would catch him making some sort of horrid snark-face to Laura when Iran marched by!

I have no problem with the beach volleyball bikinis per se, but perhaps Laura should have accompanied him to that venue?

I think you make a very good point about decorum and presidents. And given how easy it is to make ours look like an idiot, it's too bad his advisers weren't more savvy about this.

In the Leila is more spot-on than even she thinks category: The outfits from the opening ceremonies WERE designed by Ralph Lauren!


The only reason I know this is because I watch Project Runway, and it was the subject of last week's competition. (Not because I read USA Today! Heh.)



Thank you, Julie for the Ralph tip. Although I behave like I have no interest in fashion, I did have a secret eye for designers for many years. After I posted that I thought - what if Ralph did design those jackets?

I thought they were a bit over done though, a bit too fussy with the white berets and the large monograms. In fact the loud detailing made them look like knock-offs to me. Usually Ralph's taste is more restrained.

But it seems that I am turning very old-school conservative in my middle age. I want ladies to cover-up out of the pool, and gentlemen's suits to be very discreet and of the highest quality, and I think everyone ought to behave with decorum when meeting the President, and so forth. The starchy WASP preacher gene emerges.

Now that I've looked at the Ralph Olympic dress suits, I can define my criticism more precisely.

The Polo logo is ridiculous. Having two logos, one on each breast, is corny and ugly. That one of the logos advertises a fashion brand is just crass. Why couldn't Lauren just accept the glory of doing the costumes and not have to stick his logo on there as well? I'm not a graphic or fashion designer but the Olympic logo AND Polo logo together just look like amateur, cluttered design to me. Yuk.

The newsboy caps are silly. I noticed the basketball team wouldn't wear them. The hats speak to a collective memory of street urchins and servants - newsboys! and if I were a black man I wouldn't like the look either. They may be cute on a woman or a lithe, rich young white man, but as a design statement they are just a bit too mannered and costume-y. And I do think they are diminishing, ever so slightly. THey're not power hats, they are cute flouncy boy hats.

Head gear is always a tricky thing, especially since we don't wear formal hats in our culture anymore so there's no collective agreement on proper headwear.

In sum, I think Lauren missed the mark with his details here. The design effect is confused and tricky. The athletes do look very handsome in the blazers and trousers so that works, but the extra doodads diminish the effect. That's why I thought the suits were Lauren knock-offs at first. It's the old rule that cheaper clothes have fussier details.

Several of the outfits the designers on Project Runway came up with were way cooler -- and cuter! -- then RL's design:


I agree with you that the polo logos werre excessive, and with Judy that some of the Runway folks had it down.

What struck me about those stupid hats is how they seemed to be a knock off of the Kangol hat that Samuel L. Jackson almost singlehandedly made famous (in 1997, according to Wikipedia -- though the style/manufacturer was also popularly worn by hip-hop and rap artists in the 80s, ibid.).

I had to do a double-take myself -- didn't expect Ralph Lauren to be so... derivative.


Gah -- Tiny URL thing did something stupid.

Here's link to Kangol hats:


Ralph made his reputation out of derivative. Ralph found the last good tailors in New York and made them reproduce the best of old-school WASP tailoring. Then he glitzed it up a little. I admire Ralph's work generally, but derivative is how Ralph made his bones.

You could also say that he single-handedly saved American tailoring from the dust-bin of history. He's a tailoring preserve, like a wild-life preserve only for horsehair interface and hand-stitching. Endangered species of window-pane check wool - Ralph rescued them.

Good old Ralph.

Seriously - Brooks Brothers would not be alive today if it weren't for Ralph Lauren doing them one better. BB was always known for the stodginess of its cuts. Ralph went to the OG tailors and got the cuts that look really sexy.

Re: BB - I mean to say that in my opinion, Ralph resurrecting WASP tailoring and making it snazzier helped BB stay alive. Their old demographic was the stuffy WASP banker/lawyer, but that world just disappeared in the 70s/80s. THey struggled for a bit, then adapted by getting cuter and positioning their brand as OG WASP tailor. Ralph did all their marketing for them with his many photo spreads over the years. He burnished the concept and Brooks Brothers rode his coat tails. That's just my humble opinion, pulled out of thin air.

Having looked at the Project Runway stuff, all I can say is - Ralph is a professional with a bazillion years of experience designing uniforms and tailored stuff. It shows. I did not find any of those PR options acceptable for international prime time.

My quibbles with the Ralph costume are very minor in comparison - delete the Polo logo and rethink the "newsboy" cap. Otherwise I agree that it's very snappy and refined looking. Some commenters at the USA Today site thought it was somehow un-American. Too British. Just shows you how far the old WASP high culture has fallen - regular folks in America think it's un-American. Perhaps it's a good thing that we don't worship HIGH wASP anymore - I knew people in NYC who butchered their names and their noses to pretend to be WASP because of the tyranny of old school WASP worship. But on the other hand it is an indigenous American culture, you know.

Good tailoring should not be un-American (although all our tailoring has been outsourced to Hungary or China by now).

Re: the beach volleyball players ... they were practicing. Yeah I think it's a little weird that the beach volleyball uniform is a bikini, but there it is. If Bush is going to come down there while they are practicing, what are they supposed to do? It's not like they showed up to the White House in bikinis.

I mean, I don't think Misty May should have asked the president to slap her ass, but given that they were literally on the court, I think their attire was fine. If Bush jumped in the pool, and started swimming around with Phelps, you wouldn't expect Phelps to throw on some more clothes either.

I essentially see it your way, Arduous, although I'm still dismayed by the skimpiness of those bikini bottoms (ass cleavage is where I draw the line). That's why I think Bush and his handlers had the bad judgment. He should not have been cavorting with them before cameras while they were dressed like that.

Gawker and others are posting pictures with comments that he was drunk at the Olympics. He had to be helped down the stairs to his seat, plus the usual W grimaces and buffoonery. Is he drunk or just uncouth? Hard to say.

Just saw the men's beach volleyball last night and asked my husband incredulously: WHERE ARE THE SPEEDOs? I cry foul!

i dunno, i think the problem is disparity in terms of dress, not nakedness itself.

what is needed is for the emperor to wear a thong when cavorting with the volleyball players. none of that privileged clothed gaze, make him sweat the imperfection of his own body in front of the cameras.

then, at least, it'd be fair.

i dunno, i think the problem is disparity in terms of dfress, not nakedness itself.

what is needed is for the emperor to wear a thong when cavorting with the volleyball players. none of that privileged clothed gaze, make him sweat the imperfection of his own body in front of the cameras.

then, at least, it'd be fair.

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