What do iconic U.S. Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan and skating phenomenon Nathan Chen have in common?

Effortless precision? An unparalleled ability to land technical jumps?

Nathan Chen/Instagram

The two most-watched figure skaters in American history share one more common thread— they both have competed to have the most impressive designer costumes. But this wasn’t always the case for Chen, according to NBC News.

The 18-year-old American figure skater, whom some call the greatest athlete the sport has ever seen, had a habit of breaking records this past season. But supposedly, he didn’t dazzle commentators with his business-like costumes:

Nathan Chen/Instagram

In fact, his outfits caused one fan to comment on Chen’s Instagram:

Nathan Chen/Instagram

According to NBC News, before winning the 2018 U.S. Nationals, in a recent media teleconference, Chen said that everything clicked for him this season. But he admitted:

“Costumes were definitely the missing link…”

In prior competitions, he wore plain black slacks and a solid black or blue button-down shirt. But in what’s become the best-dressed performance sport of the Winter Olympics, should Chen do more to dress up his uniform?

Chen thought so. He told NBC News that his agents were on the hunt for someone who could help makeover his costumes with eye-catching looks for his 2018 competitions. He said:

“I needed someone who could really tie it all together and Vera [Wang] was the first person I had in mind.”

Nathan Chen/Instagram

Some fans were thrilled to hear he was switching up his “ice style”:

Nathan Chen/Instagram

While many weren’t pleased by the change:

Nathan Chen/Instagram

Others wanted Chen to up the fashion ante by sporting a costume with a little more embellishment and flare:

Nathan Chen/Instagram

In a sport judged by artistry as well as athleticism and technicality, some think it’s essential to have performance-wear that’s elegant and stands out.

Vera Wang, Chen’s new designer, told Women’s Wear Daily:

“You have to… look good, be costumed and stay to the music.”

The much-beloved bridalwear and jewelry designer would know.

Wang has more than 20 years experience designing Olympic figure skating costumes. And before designing bridal and red carpet gowns and jewelry, she was a figure skater.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Wang said that designing for the Olympics is more pressure than designing gowns for the Oscars. Fashion aside, the technical design of the costume is just as important as the look:

“You wouldn’t want someone to lose Olympic gold because their sleeve ripped off.”

She explained to People:

“If one strap were to break, or if the beading on the sleeve gets caught when they turn, their whole Olympics is over. That is how serious it is. It’s absolutely nightmarish!”

Chen told NBC News that he was honored to collaborate with Vera Wang and her team.

Boots, blades, music, and now perfected costumes—has Chen pulled it all together? We’ll just have to tune in to see if it’s enough to win gold at the Pyeongchang Games.

About the author

Tiffani is a writer for Dearly. She is from New York City. Prior to working for Dearly she covered fashion news and managed social media for various digital media outlets.

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