The U.S.' Sanya Richards-Ross in Chanel earrings and red sleeves. (Franck Fife / AFP/ GettyImages )
You gotta love watching the Olympics — for the sports, of course, but also for the style.
Uniforms are designed primarily for function, and ostensibly they level the playing field.
Photo Gallery: Best 2012 Olympic style moments
But they actually ratchet up the competition sartorially, as teams try to intimidate and outdo one another using only the skimpy canvas of a swimsuit, a leotard or a pair of shorts, and having to dress within the confines of official Olympic brand sponsors.
Take the Russian synchronized swimmers' bathing suits featuring Michael Jackson in profile. The King of Pop (a Jackson medley was the soundtrack for routine) instantly made them the coolest girls in the pool by association.
The loud, red harlequin-print Loudmouth Golf shorts worn by U.S. beach volleyball team Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser projected a kind of ruthless craziness, even if it didn't ultimately help them win the competition.
Athletes express themselves through more subtle personal style choices too, whether they be patriotic manicures (U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin's stars-and-stripes nail art), hair color (Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell's dyed yellow soul patch), or a tooth grill (red-white-and-blue diamond as modeled by U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte).
Jamaican track and field star Yohan Blake may have flouted the rules about branding by wearing a fancy Richard Mille watch with a bright yellow strap during the competition, although he won't officially be endorsing it *until after the Olympic Games are over. (Omega is the official timekeeper of the Olympics.)
Then there are athletes who make style choices for luck. U.S. sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross wears a bullet-shaped necklace-as-talisman when she competes, which she paired with Chanel earrings during one race. And U.K. sprinter Mo Farah wore a beaded Union Jack bracelet when he won gold.
The one trend that already seems to be translating to the armchair athletes is highlighter-colored sneakers. Team U.S.A.'s track and field stars are wearing bright neon yellow styles from Nike's Volt collection designed especially for them. And casual runners on the streets of L.A. are drifting in their wake, wearing Nike Free 3.0 sneakers in Volt yellow.
If only they could make me run faster.
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[8/9/2012 at 3:09 p.m. Because of a typographical error, an earlier draft of this post stated that Yohan Blake will not be endorsing a Richard Mille watch after the Olympic Games are over. He will not be endorsing the watch until after the Olympic Games are over.]