Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.
Vintage Lochte a few grills ago, via PopWatch.
Dear Casual and/or Indifferent Olympic Viewers,
Whether you just don't care and aren't tuning in or you're very casually tuning in around your regularly scheduled summer reality television programming or you simply live with someone who is so psychotically obsessed with the games that, by default, you're forced to endure hours upon hours of it—here's a little list of style-minded Olympic tidbits to keep you up to date. Bare in mind, this list is limited to swimming and gymnastics—if you're watching badminton you're neither casual nor indifferent.
The biggest bit of news is probably nail art. In what it's fair to assume is probably the very first fashion or beauty trend ever spearheaded by women's swimming, the ladies of the London 2012 Aquatics Centre are embracing blingy, patriotic nails. And this isn't limited to Americans Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt. Girls from around the world aren't just manicured; they're bedazzled—with the colors, stripes and stars of their home nation. Perhaps, in a sport where eye makeup washes away, hair is concealed, and bathing suits are anything but sexy—nail art is that one bit of flair these girls can hold on to poolside.
Speaking of swimming and bling—let's talk a little about how absolutely ridiculous American swimmer Ryan Lochte's patriotic grills are. You're not Lil Wayne, you're not street, you're not even not clean cut all-American. You're an amazing swimmer—who just happened to beat Michael Phelps for the gold medal in ? Something. And you shouldn't be wearing a grill. Am I wrong here? Like, yuck.
But, frankly, further poking around reveals that maybe the grill is appropriate. Lochte's mom sold him out as a chronic one-night-stander, and his E! News interviews (shut up, what do you watch at the gym?) feature the swimmer in a black V-neck club top and some sort of leather necklace thing. Which, frankly, is probably more, like, Adam Levine than Lil Wayne.
And back to girls and beauty trends: Have you seen the makeup on these gymnasts? Their eyes are crazy looking! This is like drag queen/burlesque/bordello-style eye makeup—on girls who are, like, 15. The star of this over-the-top eye makeup trend is probably Brazilian gymnast Daniele Matias Hypolito—who paints her eyes in the colors of the Brazilian flag.
Meanwhile, Gabby Douglas, an American gymnast with a growing collection of medals, isn't just getting noticed for her garish eye make-up (and, you know, being the very first black woman—at the tender age of 16—to garner an all-around title). The blogosphere is up-in-arms over her chemically relaxed, well-gelled ponytail and array of barrettes. Apparently, there's a backlash, and people hate her hair. Which, I mean, whatever, she wouldn't win the Hair Olympics. But all the gymnasts have these weird, messy top-knot ponytails. At least Gabby looks like she uses a mirror.
Shill alert: Claire's—ever-present mall purveyor of crazy-cheap jewelry, accessories, and makeup for middle schoolers—is sending around press releases featuring the Ladies of London and get-their-look Claire's products. To emulate Hypolito's eye look they recommend their Quad Makeup Kit in Blue, $8.50. As for those aforementioned nails: Go with their blue polish, $5.00, and a Nail Art Pen and Brush in white, $5.50, to get French swimmer Coralie Balmy's patriotic look. Also: Lots of hair bands and barrettes—for those who support Davis' gelled pony.
Back to gymnasts: Let's talk about America's own Danell Leyva—who just won a bronze. More specifically, let's talk about his star-spangled towel. Sweat mop, Linus-style security blanket and privacy tent all-in-one—Leyva's towel has gotten almost as much screen time as his face. So, obviously, someone started a towel Twitter.
It's also worth noting his coach Yin Alvarez, also his step father, is like Miami Vice as distilled by middle age and 2012—in a good way. That same E! News segment had him and his intricate facial hair in a slinky blue tee tucked into hard denim; a boxy lined blazer with rolled up cuffs; and a lot of jewelry. It works for him!
Olympic Swimming Fun Fact: Did you know athletes wear two swim caps? I certainly didn’t. Apparently, the sub-swim cap keeps the hair in place and out of sight while the outer-swim cap streamlines the goggle straps—that’s a lot of swim caps! I only know this because American gold medalist Dana Vollmer set a world record while swimming sans outer swim cap; her's fell off! This is, apparently, very remarkable.
Finally, who saw McKayla Maroney's jaw-droppingly perfect, gold medal-winning vault? I did not (GIF here)—but I was told it's perhaps "the most beautiful thing you could ever see." I replied (probably without looking up): "Was she wearing Dries van Noten? Did she vault out of a vintage Mercedes?" For which I was called a misanthrope: A hater of everything; a kill joy; a wet blanket; a black cloud.
I like things! I just don't want to spend 14 evenings watching the Olympics! And, I mean, good for McKayla and all—but how the hell would I know what a perfect vault looks like?
· Love, Frank [Racked]