The Politics of Fashion

Crazy hair, Mao jackets, Capt. Kangaroo suits — what messages are candidates sending?

It’s been said that politics is show business for ugly people. And so many politicians seem to try to prove this on a daily basis. It might seem shallow — but when you’re running for office, appearance does matter.

The clothing our leaders wear sends a message to the country and world. And sometimes — particularly this political season — those messages can be muddled.

Bernie Sanders perpetually looks like he’s just rolled out of bed, fully clothed, and rubbed an inflated balloon on his head for 10 minutes.

Does anything better illustrate this than Hillary Clinton’s $12,495 Armani jacket? Of course, there have been counterclaims that the coat was actually half price and that Clinton didn’t actually wear the costly tog during a speech about income inequality.

But really. What difference, at this point, does it make whether that is true? The fact remains she purchased and wore an insanely expensive sack-like garment that looks suspiciously like an old Kirby vacuum cleaner bag, as countless social media memes have so dutifully pointed out.

To be fair, though, many politicians on both sides of the political spectrum spend a considerable amount of money on their clothing — they simply look better in it than Hillary does (and are less hell-bent on destroying the country).

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All of which got us thinking about various messages the world’s political fashions send, domestically and abroad.

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Children’s Story Characters
Bernie Sanders perpetually looks like he’s just rolled out of bed, fully clothed, and rubbed an inflated balloon on his head for 10 minutes. This, and his incessant ranting about free stuff for everyone but working folks, contributes to his unique, “Get off my lawn!” mien. Or maybe he’s practicing for the role of Lead Troll in a stage production of Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Hillary Clinton, whose famous taste emits multiple messages, has apparently campaigned in one of Captain Kangaroo’s old suits — or at least one that smacks of the children icon’s wardrobe. She’s also sported a look similar to that of Barney the Purple Dinosaur, in an oversized purple floral shirt (muumuu? sheet?) she wore when visiting Bali as secretary of state.

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What Were They Thinking?
Did Vladimir Putin say, “I am Russian Chuck Norris” when he rode shirtless on a horse?

Did politicians such as Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, and virtually every other former GOP presidential candidate look in the mirror and ask, “Does this bland sweater exude an ability to relate to Joe Sixpack?”

Then there’s the late (and insane) Kim Jong-Il, who probably said, “I’m too sexy for my country” as he teased his pompadour and put on platform shoes. His son and successor, Kim Jong-Un, has worn a haircut that’s been described as a “felt-tip pen,” and a “high, wedge-shaped pompadour that sits atop [his] head like a hat — or perhaps a small, dormant woodland creature.”

Kim clearly thought the look was awesome — because he ordered every man in North Korea to duplicate it. We don’t know what he said (apart from “Look like me or die”), but we know what others say about this evil despot.

Matronly Apparel
Did President Obama really need to place so much emphasis on “mom jeans”? For years, he was spotted in them. When he threw the first pitch at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star game, his pants looked like something Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would satirize. Thankfully, Michelle is said to have nixed the look in 2014 — but not soon enough.

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Freudian Slips?
No, not the undergarments, though those might be included for a few. We’re talking about the ironic fashion choices that some leaders make, apparently subconsciously.

Do you wonder, for example, whether something’s going with Hillary’s fascinating gravitation toward orange clothing? Like, maybe she’s preparing for prison jumpsuits? (Yeah, we know this is wishful thinking.)

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Besides this, the boxy jacket and slacks combos Hillary so commonly wears look suspiciously like Chairman Mao’s Zhongshan suits. Even MSNBC, which some call Clinton’s mouthpiece, has pointed this out from time to time. Whatcha getting’ at, Hill?

Get Thee to a Barber
Donald Trump’s hair, of course, has been the butt of many a social media meme for looking like any or all of the following: dead tufts of grass, a squirrel’s tail, a corn husk, and more. Maybe he and Bernie should pool their funds for haircuts.

But we know Trump would end up paying for them both.

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