Thursday, November 15, 2012

Political Dressing

American humorist Mark Twain once said, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." He wasn't talking specifically about China, but in light of something I read yesterday, he might well have been. I call your attention to this article by Nels Frye in Foreign Policy magazine - Men in Black: Inside the Fashion of Chinese Politics - and its accompanying illustration ...

Yes, Dear Readers, it seems that the senior members of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party all order their single-breasted dark blue or black suits, white shirts, and black ties from the same haberdasher, and all have their hair dyed jet black and cut in the same style by the same barber.

The article provides a very interesting sartorial tour through the history of the Chinese government, from the Mao Jackets of the 70's and before to the dark Western suits and heavy-framed nerd glasses of the 80's and 90's, all intended to portray the Chinese leaders as solidly dependable, worldly, and yet still "men of the people."

All of which leads me to wonder why Americans in and out of politics don't advertise their political messages and preferences through  similarly uniform standards of dress and accessorizing. Warning - the following paragraphs include stereotypes ... do not proceed unless you are prepared either to laugh (in which case you are probably liberal) or be offended (in which case you are more than likely conservative)!

For instance, Republican men could emphasize their conservative, down-to-earth values by always dressing in jeans and flannel shirts (a la Ronald Reagan), or in army surplus camouflage battle dress topped off with a baseball cap (with John Deere or similar logo) worn backwards on the head. Hunting vests with lots of cargo pockets, worn without a shirt underneath, would be appropriate for less formal occasions. Sneakers (as opposed to name brand "athletic footwear") would be standard shoes except in Texas, where there is a genetic disposition toward garish cowboy boots, even for those whose closest approach to a cow is a 20-ounce t-bone at the local steak house. The only acceptable hair style would be the ruggedly virile crew cut. For their part, Republican ladies would emphasize their commitment to family values and motherhood by wearing 1950's vintage dresses (no shorter than mid-calf), high heels, and gloves, and wearing their hair either in a 1940's or 1950's style or - in the Republic of Texas - the "big hair" style in which the hair has been teased into violent anger. Both sexes would, naturally, carry weapons appropriate to the occasion ... for a formal function, a small, concealable pistol is proper, whereas a more casual event might call for a larger-caliber handgun with color-coordinated holster (a tie-down holster is de rigueur if worn to a formal event). Larger weapons (such as hunting rifles, RPGs, shotguns, or assault rifles) should not be brought to a buffet unless equipped with a sling to keep the hands free. The only acceptable pets are large huntin' dogs. If anything other than a pickup truck is driven, it must have four doors, be of American make, and have at least one Confederate flag somewhere on the body.

Democratic men might underscore their liberal sensitivities by falling back on the retro 60's look of bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed, open collar shirts, and platform shoes, whereas Democratic ladies could sport peasant blouses (bra optional, but discouraged) with maxi-skirts and sandals. Haircuts are optional for men, and women's hair styles should feature flowers.  Shaving is optional for both sexes. Beads are an acceptable accessory for both men and women, although men may opt to wear gold chains instead (which are, in any case, required for admission to better discos). Protest signs, if carried as an accessory, are grammatical and properly spelled. The only acceptable pets are cats or small dogs. Democrats drive vans equipped with every conceivable safety device. If a vehicle other than a van is driven, it must be a hybrid.

Any other ideas? Leave a comment.

Your style of dress sends a message ... be sure you leave the correct one.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

Great ideas, Bilbo. Soon some major national chain store will come out with liberal and conservative lines of clothing and accessories.

Big hair can be fun!

Mike said...

In the photo, are the bald guys making a fashion statement?

Duckbutt said...

This makes going naked a more appealing option.