Boehner Takes Speaker’s Chair
Promises to balance job with family responsibilities
By L. Ledbetter
Style Columnist for MSRP
January 10, 2011
His ascension to the Speaker’s chair ushers in a new era of conservatism inside the Beltway, but will his influence also usher in a new world order of power fashion? Mr. Boehner promises to offer substance over image but his fashion choices to date foretell a legislative direction that bears closer scrutiny.
Rep. John Boehner, 10-term Congressperson, father of two, was sworn in as Speaker of the House of Representatives today, becoming the first male to hold the post in 4 years. The face of the historic GOP midterm victory is unquestionably new House Speaker John Boehner’s —and the outfit is a dark blue pinstriped Armani suit, with cordovan wing tips and silver cuff links.
On this historic occasion, Rep. Boehner had his hair freshly trimmed and shellacked to his scalp, not one hair allowed to compromise in even the most persistent gust of wind. He selected a tailored dark blue single breasted suit for the ceremony, and the fresh coat of hair dye with chestnut highlights emanating just so, neatly from the center of his scalp. His daring hair color choice at once announced his embrace of change and his reluctant to let go of the past. The subtle pinstriping projected more banker than gangster, and his deft use of the three-point pocket square demonstrated a quiet self-assurance that should serve him well during the upcoming policy debates that are sure to come. His cufflinks flashed sparkles of light to the crowd as he waved, emphasizing his savvy at accessorizing with a purpose. His black wing tip shoes shone in the light, and close-ups showed a perfect manicure. The only time we heard the word “liberal” was when describing his generous use of Bronzer #6.
The look was remarkably on trend, if inadvertently so. For their fall collections, many top designers showed versions of the traditional power suit, deconstructing and re-imagining that old career-guy standard into something with a little more personality. Boehner played directly to today’s runway style. He eschewed the traditional white shirt for the day, opting instead for soft tangerine and a bold light blue tie, the double Windsor comfortably pressed against his prominent Adam’s apple. We applaud his ability to combine the suit of Wall Street with the shirt and tie of Main Street, in what could be considered his first reach across the aisle of the fashion world. “Ermenegildo Zegna, meet J. Crew.”
Boehner’s aesthetic has barely changed over his tenure in public office. That Armani suit has made dozens of appearances. The new Speaker doesn’t have a stylist, according to a close confidante. Too bad. A stylist might caution him that his spending freeze mentality should not extend to his wardrobe. As we all know, “Clothing makes the man (or the woman).”
He spoke to the assembled crowd of family and well-heeled supporters, but kept his remarks brief, not wanting to sound shrill or nagging on his first day in power. With his subtle, paternal sense of style, Boehner is helping to create a new archetype of sophisticated masculinity, in Washington and around the country. Come September, all the most fashionable fellows will look a little like the speaker of the House.
In more relaxed settings, Mr. Boehner has been photographed in his signature pastel Izod short sleeve shirts, bearing his once prodigious arms and biceps. We would recommend he consider switching away from size medium, which only accentuates his expanding waistline. The large belt buckle, a symbol of his commitment to a Southern Strategy for 2012, does not help. It only draws your eyes to one of his less than flattering attributes. In fact, he might consider staying with long sleeves this year. In an arms race against Michelle Obama, he is sure to lose. At least he has the good sense to spare us views of his unshaven calves.
That said, it’s a historic moment for the working man, the one who hustles night and day to wrangle votes for a sweeping legislative victory and also those who struggle toward marginally less stratospheric goals, like cooking for his spouse or taking the time to cuddle without being asked.
Boehner has long built his public image around an understated elegance, a look that is grownup and masculine, and this look will only be enhanced when he has that big gavel in his hand. We look forward to his contributions to Washington fashion society, and maybe some legislative obstructionism along the way. It’s never easy to be a trendsetting man, but the days of tall, dark and frumpy may be over with Big John in charge.
Next Week: Sen. Scott Brown celebrates the 10th anniversary of his historic nude photoshoot, Rahm Emmanuel discusses back hair removal by force, and Sarah Palin outlines her theory of multinational arms control.