When 15-year-old San Jose figure-skating sensation Polina Edmunds was selected for the Winter Olympics, teammate Jeremy Abbott gave her some advice: Pack lightly. It had nothing to with the temperate climate in Sochi, Russia.

"It's because we'll get a lot of Olympic clothes," she said.

U.S. Olympians receive essentially an entire wardrobe. At Sochi, U.S. athletes will receive an ensemble that includes hats, shirts, sweatshirts, white fleece athletic pants, leather boots, belts and wool peacoats.

That's also when the Games start to become real for athletes, three-time Olympian Brian Boitano said.

"When you try on all the clothes that have 'USA' on it, that's when it's like, 'Oh my god, I am on the Olympic team,' " added Boitano, a Sunnyvale native who won the figure-skating gold at the 1988 Calgary Games.

No matter that the Ralph Lauren-designed Team USA outfit that will be worn at Friday's opening ceremony is highlighted by a patchwork cardigan sweater that has been panned widely as garish. (A New York Times fashion critic said that it "invites comparisons to hideous Christmas sweaters.")

The attire will become family heirlooms, said Bret Hedican, a two-time hockey Olympian who now is a Sharks broadcaster.

"All the stuff I got is still in my closet today," he said. "I'll never get rid of it. It represents something more than a jacket, even if it looks so outdated now and can't believe you ever wore it. It means everything to me."

-- By Elliott Almond and Mark Emmons