Anarcho-Sartorialism

Fashion in Action

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As I write this post, Ted Cruz is staging a psuedo-filibuster on the floor of the Senate. He stands alone in a room (and party) deeply divided. His effort draws attention to the importance of the individual in the American political system. No system is adequate in its representation of the varying interests of the individuals it is designed to embody, however, some systems allow for the aggrandizement of a single person, if only for a short period of time. This spectacle, in the U.S., takes form in the shape of the filibuster. The filibuster, as a political tool, allows for the direct representation of the minority opinion on their own terms for as long as they can hold the floor. While Mr.Cruz isn’t staging a formal filibuster, he is utilizing the same fundamental idea in his public rebellion.

The filibuster has been used in the past during times of radical political change. Take Strom Thurmond’s famous 24 hour filibuster where he tried to single-handedly kill the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Most recently, Rand Paul’s filibuster drew national attention for his unwavering pursuit of answers surrounding President Obama’s use of drones domestically and against U.S. citizens.

It does not matter what you think about the substance of the politician’s motives in filibustering, as most filibusters are futile from their inception. What one must grasp is the either irrational or commendable (depending on where you stand) amount of power and attention given to the individual or minority by America’s political system.

I have not forgotten that this is partially a fashion blog. I think it very apt that Mr.Cruz chose to wear a blue tie to work this morning. He, a member of the red (Republican) party, wears a blue (Democratic) colored tie. In a room where his own party stands, as a majority, against him, and his blatant critics on the other side of the isle are undoubtedly praying for him to finish his speech A.S.A.P., Mr.Cruz straddles the line between the two and walks alone in both dress and politics. His enigmatic ideology only emphasizes his individuality in a senate creased and aged by party lines. I’m quite positive that no one will remember the color of his tie when referencing this filibuster, but if it is remembered as a stand for the individual against the divided collective, then it  will have been enough.

What I’m reading about today: Ted Cruz’s filibuster

Brooks Brothers Exceptionalism

Brooks Brothers LogoBrooks Brothers brand clothing is what your grandfather wore. It is what possibly his grandfather wore into war. It is who has clothed 39 of the 44 Presidents and remained a staple for elite Ivy-leaguers and wealthy New-England bankers.  Brooks Brothers can safely be considered one of the Great American Brands.

In a constantly changing market, Brooks Brothers has remained consistent in its few commitments: quality, fair price, and excellent service. In a country where opportunity granted due to “legacy” status is vilified, Brooks seems to bypass the American standard for complete equality in access to politicians. Perhaps, Brooks is just the American politician’s brand of choice.  Regardless, Brooks continues to follow tradition, putting coats on the backs of Presidents with ease.

Brooks Brothers JFK

On a very superficial level, Brooks Brothers has achieved a very noble goal through commendable efforts for respectable reasons. On closer inspection, however, Brook’s success has exemplified the fatal flaw in American Exceptionalism and the notion of nationalism as a whole.

Brooks Brothers is hailed, as I have already stated, as one of the great American clothiers. Since it was established in 1818, Brooks has offered conservative clothing at luxury prices to upper class males (and later females). It began,  as any company begins, eager to meet the need in the market. Over time Brooks found its niche among the upper-class and settled into it’s role as a store primarily market toward the affluent few.

Fast forward 195 years and it now offers clothing for all consumers, women included. It is no longer accessible only to the privileged. Anyone living in a metropolitan area can go to their city mall and find a Brooks Brothers shop.  I frequently find Brooks Brothers merchandise at my local thrift store. In recent years, Brooks Brothers has even spread their brand across seas, targeting markets completely unfamiliar with their heritage as an elite clothier.

Brooks Brothers Abraham Lincoln

The parallel between Brooks Brothers’ evolution and the evolution of the idea of American Exceptionalism reveals it’s flaw in their mutual trend of  long-term degradation. Because anyone can wear Brooks Brothers, its status as an elite clothier is diminished. Any major scandals, manufacturing errors, or failed products in their 195 year history  accumulate and eventually tarnish their reputation, either through the comparison of quality in honoring their commitments over time, or an overall change in their brand image. The problem being that no business or brand is perfect. It can not be, as some politicians attempt to be, all things to all people. There is no such thing as an exceptional brand because exceptionalism requires being different where it matters. And in places where it matters –quality, fair price, and exceptional service, there is no such thing as perfection. Although you can be less flawed than another brand, the only way you can be fundamentally different (or exceptional) is to be flawless.

In applying the idea of long-term degradation to the U.S., it is very easy to expose the lack of rationality in American Exceptionalism. The U.S. may have began, as most countries do, seeking to create a system that better represented the needs of the individuals within that new state. Over time, however, history can attest to the failure of Americans to uphold that initial goal. One can’t discount the horrors of America’s influence in it’s wars throughout history. These wars alone should destroy the notion of American Exceptionalism.

The problem is that some believe countries are exceptional because they win wars instead of never going to war in the first place.

Brooks Brothers Bush Sr

At the root of it is nationalism: The idea that 313,900,00 people hold any given truth in common. What is the threshold for being exceptional? If the U.S. sets the bar then I don’t know of a country on earth that isn’t exceptional.

What I’m reading about: Obama’s Position on Iran

Obama’s Shades

Obama sunglasses 6Sunglasses came to prominence in American fashion through their use by Hollywood’s earliest stars. (Or so says Wikipedia.) Shortly after film’s golden age the accessory became a staple among the masses as easily as the youth mimicked the stars they desperately wanted to emulate. And while they come in many shapes and colors, sunglasses, at their foundation, serve a practical purpose: to protect one’s eyes from the sun –or others.

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For as long as they have been used for protection from the sun, sunglasses have served the purpose of hiding the emotions one conveys through their eyes. In popular culture sunglasses have even been used to conceal someone’s identity entirely. And more recently sunglasses have been used to “block out the hater-rays”.

So when I see the President wearing sunglasses I must ask: why is he wearing sunglasses? And no, this isn’t some conspiracy that Obama wears sunglasses to hide his true identity as a Kenyan-born infidel who deceived the most powerful country in the world simply by producing a fake birth certificate… of course not. Right?

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I ask because this past week, as I read about his proverbial poker match with Putin, I wondered what his true intention was. As a bold and acclaimed speaker, his speech Tuesday was uncharacteristically shallow and seemed to fall on deaf ears, giving no unifying direction to our nation’s goal in the Syrian conflict. I ask myself why the recipient of a Nobel Peace-Prize must negotiate with a former KGB officer to carry out military intervention in a foreign country? I then realize that I’ve forgotten to ask why a Nobel-Peace prize recipient is using military force as a punishment for a country for using military force.

Then I realize Obama wears shades for more than one reason. At times like this, Obama needs to deflect all the hater-rays he can. He also uses his sunglasses’ ability to hide  a master-plan that seems to bewilder even his most loyal followers and conversely attract those previously critical of his policy. This must be why. In a time when party-platforms seem to be degrading to the point where they resemble their opposition, who wouldn’t want to hide? And when the most powerful man in the world has a plan that appears to be failing in every regard (though I’m sure it isn’t) who wouldn’t want to distort the vision of the future so that it may resemble something easier to witness?

With sunglasses, that which is too damaging to the naked eye becomes visible. One can bear to see things better left unseen by those without protection. Obama has his shades on. What is he looking at?

Obama sunglasses

 

 

What I’m reading about today: Unemployment

The Part Hair Plays

I am not the first to write about the importance of the hair part. I’m not even the first to write about its significance in politics. There are examples here and here of others who recognize the importance of the hair part. But I believe I am the first to apply it’s theory to the first president who literally cannot part his hair.

I realize that this blog has been very micro-oriented so far which is surprising, as I consider myself a big-picture person. But do not get lost in the details on which this post is focused. It all contributes to the larger realm of everyday politics.

According to “research”, it has been determined that politicians are perceived as better leaders when they part their hair on the left side.  The theory also works in the opposite fashion –weaker leaders part their hair on the right side. (Someone tell that to the Reaganites.) The theory also suggests that the side of the part conveys a dominance in that hemisphere of the brain.

Carter is the primary example used by most to describe the hair part theory.

Carter

During the first half of his presidency, Carter parted his hair on the right side or the “weak” side. His first major public appearance with his hair parted on the strong side came in his “Malaise” speech. Though it is and was extremely hard to find inspiration in any part of his time in office, this speech, or more likely his hair part, temporarily increased his approval rating significantly. Two days later he would fire his entire cabinet and lose all of the ground he had gained through his hair part.

In the past, there has been extensive writing on the way a certain political figure parts their hair, most notably the sitting President. This leads to a unique question: if we are to assume that, according to research, those who part their hair on the right side are right-brain oriented and those who part their hair on the left side are left-brain dominant, what are we to assume about those who cannot part their hair at all? (I’m looking at you, Barack.) It doesn’t stop there. Plenty of Presidents didn’t part their hair due to the fact that it wasn’t fashionable in their time.

Martin Van Buren and Eisenhower were bald, Taft and Teddy parted their hair down the middle, and the first six presidents primarily wore wigs.

Van Buren

Though this entire blog may be one elaborate red herring to pull the focus of politics from the issues toward the unessential, I write this to emphasize that politicians ought not to be judged by the part of their hair but by the content of their character. I’m sure MLK is rolling in his grave after that one.

There is a time and place for everything, including fashion oriented political commentary. Learning to distinguish the appropriate time and place to discuss the true issues of politics and knowing when to make fun of Ron Paul’s shoes is essential to coming of age in today’s political atmosphere without being bogged down by its banality and corruption.

What I am reading about today: The Business Cycle

The Bow Tie

Consider this the first installment of a series on bow ties. Trust me, I’ll make it worth your time.

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There are many things bow ties can do that politicians can’t. Bow ties draw attention to themselves without starting wars, raising taxes, or tweeting pictures of their goods. Bow ties effortlessly bring together an outfit without using a draft, threatening a veto, or using a big stick. They are remembered not by a body count, a deficit, or a scandal, but by their consistent pattern or true color. There are quite a few things that America’s politicians can learn from a bow tie.

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Bow ties embody the favorable characteristics of any great politician –confidence, charisma, and intelligence. However, few politicians choose to embrace the power of this sartorial novelty.

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Probably due to his never-ending pursuit to appeal to the youth demographic, Obama has strategically used the recent rise in popularity of the bow tie to his advantage. He has also garnered attention by drawing red lines in the middle-east. I suggest he stick to bow ties.

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JFK’s buck-tooth grin would fall flat among the polished statesmen of today. The endless cycle of rehearsing, performing, reviewing, and apologizing generates an atmosphere of panic for modern politicians. They must be everything to everyone. It also generates politicians incapable of saying the wrong thing –or anything at all for that matter. Being afraid to fail used to weed out those unfit for politics. Now it is a prerequisite.

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These days, the true character of a politician often surfaces in third party YouTube videos instead of town hall meetings. Their personal brand replaces their personality, and the reasons for voting become personal instead of political. The only glimpse into their human side is purveyed through their style.

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Although many politicians on the national stage may already employ stylists to make them more attractive or agreeable, the vast majority still rely on old fashioned style rules to guide them in their everyday outfits. And it shows.

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The beauty of a bow tie is that it allows the person wearing it to convey more personality than if they wore a necktie. A candidate can say more than their competitor and speak less.  You may disagree, but when is the last time you saw someone wearing a bow tie and thought nothing of it? In politics, the simple action of a voter noticing that a candidate is wearing a bow tie instead of a necktie can mean the difference between winning and losing a vote.

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The concept isn’t new.

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The Presidents pictured all wore bow ties. And though you may not be a fan of them all, they were all at some time the most powerful men in the country. That should be reason enough to wear a bow tie.

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Wearing a bow tie may be a negligible detail. It may also be the difference between being remembered and fading into the crowd. Why take the risk?

What I am reading today: The State and Social Cooperation

An Introduction

In the world of American politics, there are many things taken into account, when considering a candidate, that may seem especially superficial or shallow to the foreigner. The foreigner may see values, principles, and promises as the foundation of the candidate, The domestic voter, for better or worse, sees the wrinkles in his shirt, the glow behind his smile, and the firmness in his handshake.

I see the brand of his shoes, the silhouette of his suit, and pattern of his tie.

I have created this blog to study where fashion, politics, and ideology meet. In any situation where politics is discussed openly there is likely to be fierce debate. This blog is not your battleground and I am no one’s general.

Look forward to content of all sorts being posted here as I journey with you to discover more about style and American politics.

As a teaser please look at this blog post as things of this nature serve as my inspiration. 

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