The redoubtable fashion critic Simon Doonan, author of Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, observes that a unique appearance is a political liability in the United States. Mitt Romney, he observes, is “so handsome that he runs the risk of looking too “plastic…like a TV anchor.”
Simon Doonan: American presidents are not supposed to be fashion pioneers. People often cite JFK, but the reality was he was a handsome, athletic guy who looked good in a suit. He wasn’t a fashion pioneer, for Christ's sake.
Mitt Romney has—he’s loosened up his appearance a little bit because he’s so handsome that he runs the risk of looking like some anchorman if he’s too well-groomed. And so he’s roughed himself up a bit. There’s a lot of shirt without a tie, there’s a lot of slightly wind-blown hair . . . because he doesn’t want to look like a lounge lizard. He can’t appear to be self-involved. When John Edwards was revealed as having these extravagantly expensive haircuts it said everything about him . . . because I always thought there was something cheesy about him. And then immediately when we found out he was vain, he was off my list, everybody’s list. Politicians are not supposed to be vain, and Mitt Romney has to be careful with that because the others aren’t so good looking so they always look a bit, you know, whatever.
If you’re a politician you can command respect and maintain a certain casual attire, but you have to be very kind of Eddie Bauer about it. You can’t be rocking no groovy outfit . . . it can’t be any style component; it has to be function. So you’re wearing a windbreaker because it’s windy. You know, you’re taking your tie off because you’re out in the corn fields of Ohio and you’re shaking hands and da, da, da, da, da. . . . There has to be—it’s about function. America’s great at functional clothing, you know. We do it better than anybody, all that work wear. . . . So a windbreaker because it’s windy.
The only politician in British history who was allowed flamboyance was Benjamin Disraeli. He was great. He used to wear, like, yellow velvet knickers and jewelry, and his hair was all, like, marcelled. He was a friend of Queen Victoria’s. He was actually the only Jewish Prime Minister of England, and he was Prime Minister twice. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd