02/13/2018 10:55 EST | Updated 02/14/2018 09:24 EST

The Style Evolution Of Canada’s Winter Olympic Uniforms Shows How Far We've Come

We made some questionable choices in the past.

The Olympics will always be, first and foremost, about athleticism, but fashion has also found a place at the Games.

You may not realize it but designers, retailers, and general style commentary get a hefty share of airtime during the Olympics. And aside from the bare-chested Tongan flag-bearer, audiences are generally excited to see clothing on the world's elite athletes.

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Team Canada at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

The official uniforms are always a big deal at the opening ceremony. There's a huge amount of pressure to create a memorable look that will also result in commercial success for the brand behind the teams' outfits.

Over the years, Canada's army of red-and-white clad athletes have hit the nail on the head with Roots, Dsquared², and this year, Hudson's Bay at the helm of design. If we take a walk down memory lane, it's clear we've come along way since that time we showed up in fringe and Stetson hats — together.

And yes, that really did happen.

1980: Late Placid, U.S.A.

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These fur-trimmed parkas aren't too different from what our athletes are wearing today. Canada has certainly experimented with different looks since the '80s, but they've since come back to this tried-and-true look.

1984: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

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Canada's appearance at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo found our athletes in oversized red parkas, white-and-red toques, and practical snow boots. This was the year our country took style cues from grandma's winter garb.

1988: Calgary, Canada

Canadian Press

We kind of understand the logic behind Canada's 1988 Olympic uniforms because Calgary, right? However, this year went down in history as one of our quirkiest uniforms yet. The red trench coats, white fringe and cowboy hats were way over the top. A simple nod to cowboy culture would have done just fine. No word on the culprits who designed this look.

1992: Albertville, France

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Canada went stark white for the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France. With their Russian-inspired winter headbands, Canada looked like majestic winter guards.

1994: Lillehammer, Norway

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We're still unsure what Canada was going for at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. Matador, perhaps? A Buckingham Palace guard? Either way, it was a bizarre choice, but a bold one that we can almost appreciate.

1998: Nagano, Japan

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This was the first year Roots was tapped to dress the team and it was the beginning of a style revolution for Team Canada.

The uniforms at the 1998 Nagano Games saw the Canadian team in fairly non-descript white-and-red jackets paired with black pants trimmed with red-and-white piping. The more notable item was the red cap designed by Roots.

2002: Salt Lake City, U.S.A.

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Speed skater Catriona Le May Doan led the charge at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in a different look for the Canadians — one that could be deemed a dressed-up take on the Olympic uniform. The team appeared in burgundy leather jackets, grey dress pants, red-and-white striped scarves and red boots, again, designed by Roots.

2006: Turin, Italy

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Roots handed over the design torch to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) for the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. To the surprise of Roots CEO Michael Budman, HBC won a bid to design the uniforms for Canada through to 2012. At the 2006 Turin Games, Canada marched in predominately white parkas, white pants and matching aviator caps.

2010: Vancouver, Canada

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Going with a darker colour palette in 2010, Team Canada walked into the opening ceremony wearing red parkas, black pants and matching plaid scarves. The "Canada" emblazoned toques and maple leaf mitts became a retail hit for HBC that year.

2014: Sochi, Russia

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HBC's striped duffle coat has always been a bestseller, so naturally they incorporated the popular style into the 2014 uniforms at the Sochi Games. The Canadians looked especially chic that year, wearing something other than a parka. The red duffle coats featured black accents and was paired with black pants and Adidas shoes. The toques and mitts remained relatively similar to the 2010 style, with a few modifications.

2018: PyeongChang, South Korea

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There was no question who the Canadians were at this year's opening ceremony in PyeongChang. HBC outfitted the team in red parkas with "Canada" emblazoned loud and clear across the chest. Bright red winter boots finally gave footwear some attention. The collection was stylish, but not ground-breaking and one might wonder if Canada is due for a big style shakeup. The Canadian design duo of Smythe comes to mind.

CORRECTION – Feb. 14, 2018: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Lillehammer is in Switzerland. The post has been corrected to state that it is in Norway.

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