Why the dark blue suits? The white shirts. The monochromatic ties. Would the nation have reeled if George W. Bush had sported a ten gallon cowboy hat all the time - and not just for publicity shots on the ranch? How about Clinton? He was basically a (highly educated) rock star - the saxophone, the groupies, the weed. Would a pair of leather pants have been so out of place? Or a Speedo? Or at the very least a pin-striped suit and hat a la The Blues Brothers?
That Delphic oracle of style, Simon Doonan, author of the outrageously funny Gay Men Dont Get Fat, says fashion and politics don't mix in a democracy. The candidate's person must be a blank canvas onto which we can project our hopes and dreams for the nation. If it's style you're after, says Doonan, look to dictatorships. No way the American electorate would have let Gaddafi get away with all that jheri-curl.
No doubt most baby boomers still associate the suit and tie with authority and competence. But one wonders what constitutes a blank canvas for the generation now coming of voting age, those skinny-jeaned youths raised on anti-corporate polemic in the shadow of 2008's Wall Street scandals.
Then again, back when the Baby Boomers came of voting age, many of them were bell-bottomed, shaggy-haired hippies. So perhaps the suit, the tie, and the LL Bean on weekends are here to stay after all - timeless symbols of bland, no-nonsense leadership.
Simon Doonan on presidential fashion:
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