Readers of Walking the Berkshires and those who know me in person know how little attention I generally pay to the world of men's fashion. True, like most men with facial hair I am keenly aware of how it works - or doesn't - on the faces of others as well as my own. If we were peacocks we'd be checking out each other's tails. But aside from that, my own wardrobe trends toward jeans and safari cloth, with something to wear to funerals and formal business meetings and that's about it.
But being an observant fellow, I have noticed a trend in American politics away from the aggressive Reagan-era red power tie toward a cool and sophisticated blue. Today's photo-op of President Bush with President Elect Obama is a classic example of this new chief executive style. In fact, president Bush has been favoring blue ties for some time now - some are calling his fashion legacy - and Obama often dispenses with neck wear altogether, which very well may become his.
How did this come to pass? What is it about red power ties that had members of both parties dutifully knotting up their Scarlet half Windsors in the 1980s, and seems today as dated in American politics as the double wide "Barney Miller" ties of the 1970s? Herewith, a photo-mosaic, courtesy of a quick Google image search. Feel free to free associate:
Now there are so many matters of great import and substance requiring strong and decisive leadership today that it would be rash indeed to favor one candidate over another based on the one item of men's fashion apparel that makes the most dramatic statement. Still, this sort of scrutiny is how our society treats women seeking advancement and high office, so why not the alpha male?
Style over substance, perhaps. But McCain might have taken a cue from the pale blue Prez before trotting out on the hustings in tired bureaucrat drab. Or from those who dressed his own running mate, whose glamor made him seem more like an accessory (after the fact). Would a nice powder blue silk tie have made the difference? Or a Mandela shirt? Hey, the first candidate Clinton borrowed a jazzy tie from Arsenio Hall before blowing sax for the late night crowd. Politicians gotta do what it takes...
More: I don't know how I failed to make the connection the first time around, but on reflection it occurs to me that G.W.'s pale blue has a presidential prededent from the other G.W.: our first Commander-in-Chief. Washington wore a silk sash in that color as a badge of rank, as this action figure from Sideshow Collectibles accurately portrays! Red is for Redcoats, Blue for Whigs. Case closed.