Photos Of Flo-Jo's Style — And Nail — Evolution, From Bold To Bolder

Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner's style was worthy of a champion.
Flo-Jo's custom track suits were strikingly unique from other runners' looks.
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Flo-Jo's custom track suits were strikingly unique from other runners' looks.

When it comes to Olympic style, there’s no competition: Florence Griffith Joyner didn’t just clock in as the fastest woman of all time, she was also one of the most fashion-forward.

The track and field icon, better known as Flo-Jo, captivated the sports world in the 1980s when she set the still-unbroken world record for women’s sprints in the 100-meter and 200-meter races at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

But people watching at home didn’t just want to be as fast as Flo-Jo, they also wanted to look as cool as her, said Darnell-Jamal Lisby, a fashion historian and curator.

“Flo-Jo’s style fused and updated traditional runners’ functional athletic apparel with jazzy fabrications, like lace, and refreshing silhouettes that emitted a sense of showmanship with her eclectic energy,” Lisby told HuffPost. “She designed many of her own uniforms, so they were personal to her.”

The California-born Olympian stunned in brightly colored, asymmetrical one-legged track suits and sported bold 6-inch-long acrylic nails, often with USA- or Olympic gold-themed designs. (In that arena, it didn’t hurt that she was a former hair and nail technician.)

“Every Black woman who wouldn’t normally see nail work and nail art outside of the magazines, the nail salons they frequented or their neighborhoods could turn on the TV and see Flo-Jo sporting those looks,” said Cieja Springer, a style expert and host of the “From the Bottom Up” podcast. “It was epic. She was fierce and bold, yet refined.”

Griffith Joyner’s untimely death in 1998 hasn’t dulled her shine or legacy. Homages to the late track star are frequent. Beyoncé dressed up as her for Halloween in 2018. For her first match in the 2021 Australian Open, Serena Williams honored the legendary sprinter by wearing an asymmetric black, red and hot-pink color-blocked tennis unitard. And 21-year-old sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s affinity for long acrylic nails ― not to mention her speed ― has led to plenty of comparisons to Flo-Jo.

Beyoncé dressed up as as Griffith Joyner for Halloween in 2018. (The singer's husband, Jay-Z, dressed as Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith.) In 2021, Serena Williams paid homage to Flo-Jo in an asymmetrical tennis unitard.
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Beyoncé dressed up as as Griffith Joyner for Halloween in 2018. (The singer's husband, Jay-Z, dressed as Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith.) In 2021, Serena Williams paid homage to Flo-Jo in an asymmetrical tennis unitard.

But let’s take it back to the legend herself. Below are some of Flo-Jo’s most glam and memorable looks.

1984
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Florence Griffith Joyner focuses as she prepares for competition during the 1984 Olympic trials.
1985
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Griffith Joyner competes in the Foot Locker Invitational Track Meet in June 1985 at Edwards Stadium on the campus of the University of California in Berkeley.
1986
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Griffith Joyner runs on a beach.
1986
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Griffith Joyner shows off her trademark nails.
1986
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner poses in formal wear.
1986
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Griffith Joyner runs in the women's 200-meter event at the Mazda IAAF Grand Prix Cologne track meet in August 1986 in Cologne, Germany.
1986
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Griffith Joyner signs autographs during the Bislett Grand Prix Track and Field Meet on July 5, 1986, at the Bislett Stadium in Oslo, Norway.
January 1987
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Griffith Joyner runs down the track during a meet in Rome.
1987
Bob Martin via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner prepares for the women's 200-meter event at the Internationales Stadionfest (ISTAF) track meet on Aug. 21, 1987, in Berlin.
1987
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Griffith Joyner stretches during a 1987 photo shoot.
1987
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner reps the U.S.
1987
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner in another legendary suit.
February 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner during a training run in February 1988 in Los Angeles.
April 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner and her husband, Al Joyner, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump.
April 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner wears yellow during an April 1988 photo shoot in Los Angeles.
April 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner poses in a red draped dress.
July 1988
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Griffith Joyner competes in the preliminary rounds of the women's 100-meter event of the 1988 USA Track and Field Olympic trials held in July at the IU Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium in Indianapolis.
July 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner runs down the track during the 1988 Olympic trials.
July 1988
David Madison via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner wears pink during the 1988 Olympic trials.
July 1988
David Madison via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner competes in the quarterfinal round of the women's 200-meter event of the 1988 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials held July 22 at the IU Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium in Indianapolis.
July 1988
David Madison via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner dons a T-shirt with her own image during the 1988 Olympic trials.
July 1988
David Madison via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner at the 1988 Olympic trials in one of her most iconic looks.
July 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner waves to the crowd during the Olympic trials.
September 1988
David Madison via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner competes in the first round of the women's 100-meter race of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games on Sept. 24 in Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea.
September 1988
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Griffith Joyner celebrates as she wins a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
September 1988
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Griffith Joyner displays her medals from the 1988 Olympic Games.
September 1988
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner displays her medals from the 1988 Olympics.
October 1988
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Griffith Joyner is pictured during the U.S. Olympic team's trip to the White House in 1988.
1988
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Husband and wife track and field athletes Griffith Joyner and her husband, Al Joyner, pose for a portrait at home circa 1988 in Los Angeles.
1988
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The Joyners in matching yellow robes.
1988
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The Joyners together at Penn Plaza in Manhattan circa 1988.
October 1988
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Griffith Joyner and her sister-in-law, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, attend the 9th Annual Woman's Sports Foundation Awards on Oct. 17, 1988, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.
November 1988
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Griffith Joyner attends the 16th Annual International Emmy Awards on Nov. 21, 1988, at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City.
1989
Tony Duffy via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner runs down the track in zebra print.
January 1989
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Griffith Joyner poses for a picture with her daughter, Mary.
February 1989
Focus On Sport via Getty Images
Griffith Joyner and her husband pose with the Jesse Owens international awards trophy.
June 1989
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Griffith Joyner stands on the track before a race.
June 1989
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Griffith Joyner poses for a picture with young track athletes.
April 1991
Ron Galella via Getty Images
Bodybuilder Rachel McLish and Griffith Joyner attend the 12th Annual Sports Emmy Awards on April 3, 1991, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.
September 1991
Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
The Joyners attend a party for Richard Pryor on Sept. 7, 1991, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
June 1993
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The Joyners attend the premiere of "Rookie of the Year" on June 26, 1993, at the Cineplex Odeon Cinema in Century City, California.
July 1995
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Griffith Joyner at the Dean Witter Discover Credit Card celebrity art exhibit on July 12, 1995, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
1997
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A portrait of Griffith Joyner in Los Angeles in 1997.