Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clothes Make The Man

The media double standards that disfavor Republicans are so pervasive that they invade the very clothes on our backs. If, say, a Democrat like BJ Clinton or Barak Obama wears jeans, it's a sign of youth and vitality. But, if a GOP politicians dares show up in Iowa in some Levi's, then it's, well, unpresidential:

How do a Harvard-schooled private-equity titan, a Mandarin-speaking former ambassador, a libertarian physician-congressman and the nation's longest-serving governor convince Americans that they are men of the people?

Campaign casual.

Fashion observers say the men in the Republican presidential primary race are setting a new standard for studied sartorial ease. Working the campaign trail in shirt-sleeves and jeans, they're tossing off their neckties—and with them, a century of tradition.

"Good lord, what have we come to?" says Daniel James Cole, professor of fashion history at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "I read that Mitt Romney's wife bought him Gap skinny jeans…We don't think of jeans as being presidential." The Romney campaign didn't respond to requests for comment.

A Republican former White House aide suggests the 2012 candidates have gone far beyond what he calls the "three F's" rule: A president looks better without a tie only when appearing at a fair, on a factory floor or at the scene of a flood.

Indeed, Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, went tieless when kicking off his candidacy.

Much goofing at the link on Mitt Romney's wife buying him some skinny jeans at the Gap, and then rolling up his sleeves just so.

Giving an informal air to the formal announcement, he wore a roomy shirt in a tattersall pattern—a plaid first used in 18th-century British horse blankets—with sleeves "rolled as if he [had] entered an impromptu hot-dog-eating contest," wrote Kurt Soller, Esquire's style editor. The magazine's Web story was titled, "Mitt Romney's New Strategy: Stop Dressing Well."

Also, Ron Paul has posted pictures on Facebook where he's in a bathing suit. My eyes!

You can't win with this sort of thing because if Romney showed a little more gravitas in his wardrobe, we'd be hearing about how stiff and dull he looks. And, it also ignores the virtual universality of business casual in the upper eschalons of business. Indeed, here is the Bay Area the joke is that the richest guy in the room is usually the one in the rattiest T-shirt. You're more likely to see someone in a tie at the Olive Garden, than you are at some of San Francisco's ritziest restaurants, which threw up their hands years ago at enforcing any kind of dress code beyond "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service" for fear of throwing out the next teen-aged internet billionaire. Now, we're supposed to get upset if Rick Perry shows up at a pig farm in a polo shirt? America's fashion enforcers are kindly requested to make up their minds.

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