Waltzing out into that arena in a slick, shiny leotard is a big moment for any gymnastics champion, but we had no idea just how intense the process of creating Olympic uniforms could be.
GK Elite, the company Team USA has relied on to make their leotards for years, spilled to Buzzfeed about everything — from how athletes keep their uniform designs a complete secret to what one can possibly wear underneath those skimpy-bottomed outfits. It turns out unveiling a team look is like walking down the aisle in your wedding dress, which is why planning for the gold-medal champs' performance leotards began 18 months ago — well before anyone even knew who would make the team. (Then again, if you're going to be pants-less for the biggest moment of your life, why would you want to look anything less than spectacular?)
The Pennsylvania-based company creates leotards containing so many crystals that they've become Swarovski's number-one North American customer, and Team USA's uniforms this year were no exception. Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, and the rest of the crew each had thousands of sparkly gems on their red, crystal-striped uniforms when they nabbed team medals, looking so elegant that even Shawn Johnson said it was the most beautiful leotard she had ever seen. (And, she even has her own line!)
In the most secretly high-low of ways, the supremely bedazzled looks our nation's best tumblers wore are, surprisingly, made out of plastic. While gymnasts back in the day flew threw through the air in a bevy of multi-colored, outdated velour, these new getups are made of Mystique, a nylon-based material that became popular in 2004 for its spandex-like fit and compression qualities. Since then, it's practically become the norm for competitions, making gymnasts look shinier, dressier, and because of its muscle-hugging nature, stronger.
For those of you who watch gymnastics for an athlete's double-tucks as well as, you know, to see what they're bringing style-wise (can we talk about Russia's glitter hair, please?), you'll be glad to know that each gymnast was given eight leotards each. Translation: There are some gorgeous, patriotic-inspired stunners still hanging in those Olympic Village closets that we've not yet seen. Even with a pile of 'em in each competitor's suitcase, it ends up these leos aren't cheap, either. At around $500 a piece, each U.S. gymnast's leotard arsenal could buy five pairs of Louboutins or even two large Proenza Schouler PS1 bags. Though, a shiny new designer purse just isn't as good when you can't tuck a gold medal inside of it. (BuzzFeed Shift)
Photo: Via BuzzFeed Shift