Lawyers need to know a smidgen about fashion if we don’t want to look like fools before clients, courts and juries, which is why I’m bringing my limited sartorial skills to today’s post.
Many people across the country looked at Sean Spicer in his debut appearance as presidential spokesman, and the lies he was forced to spew about the size of the crowds for the inaugural Friday and the massive protests on Saturday, and then proceeded to…mock his ill-fitting suit.
He can see a picture of the slob. Many folks on the interwebs had fun with it. There is already a Go Fund Me page to Buy Sean Spicer A Suit That Fits that has been shared, currently, more than 6,000 times on Facebook. A couple of SeanSpicerSuit Twitter accounts have also appeared.
Daniel Politi at Slate snarked, for example:
“Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” Spicer said as he was gradually swallowed by his suit.
According to respectable journalists, President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, beclowned himself already. Not by the ill-fitting suit he wore, but by declaring that the inauguration drew the “”largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
But perhaps we should rethink this?
Would somebody, in one of the most high-profile jobs on the planet — appearing for the first time before the international media in his new role in the White House — deliberately dress down?
And then I thought of some mocking Trump for taking the oath of office without the decency of buttoning his jacket. Except that he is hardly ever seen with a buttoned jacket (see for example, this photo of Republican nominees).
Are these slips of sartorial splendor connected?
This brought my mind back to an incident many years ago when I was trying a case in the Bronx. Opposing counsel came in each day with the points of his shirt collar haphazardly upturned. I finally pointed this out to him. Oh, he said, he knows. It was purposeful.
He didn’t want to look like The Insurance Company Lawyer in front of a Bronx jury, few of whom wear suits for anything other than a funeral.
Many in the media have commented on the fashion style of Michelle Obama, as well as that of Hillary Clinton and her pants suits, so I’m going to take first crack (I think) at the fashion style of the new administration (because how you present yourself, be it in law or politics, matters).
Here’s my Trump Administration fashion theory: You don’t wear Brooks Brothers to storm the castle. The mob behind the screaming populist with the billowing jowls, carrying pitchforks and torches, do not wear fine suits. The mob wants to destroy. The mob laughs at those who mock an ill-fitting suit.
To test my theory, I looked up images of Sean Spicer. And, unsurprisingly, I found photo after photo of him showing fine fashion sense in well-tailored* clothes. Ask yourself if this looks like a man who would inadvertently wear an overly large slob suit on his first day as presidential press secretary:
I think the ill-fitting suit that looked like it came from the wrong rack of a second-hand store was no accident. There’s an image-maker someplace advising on how to deliberately downgrade appearances, and I think we’ll see much more of it.
As for me, when I speak in front of a jury, I would never wear french cuffs. Or a bow tie. Or braces. Or a pocket square. Or funky socks. I try to be boring. But that’s just me, as I dress for the point I am trying to make — my point being that I don’t want my clothes to distract my jurors.
And when my clients appear before a jury, I don’t tell them to wear a suit if the only suit they own is the one they wear for special occasions, meaning funerals. I advise them to wear their church clothes, so they are comfortable and that neck tie doesn’t cause them to squirm.
I don’t think the Spicer/Trump clothing issues are an accident as they appeal to the mob, and we’ll see in the coming months whether my theory holds.
For now, though, be wary of quickly jumping all over the suit(s) that Spicer elects to wear. It’s quite possible that it’s all a very deliberate appeal to his base. And that we are being trolled.
Fact: Sean Spicer’s Suit is Bad (GQ Magazine)
*Addendum, 1/25/17: OK, my theory might be for the birds. As pointed out to me elsewhere, one of the “well-tailored” suits (the one with the lavender tie) isn’t exactly well-tailored. And, stories have come out that Trump was pissed at the way Spicer was dressed. So, while I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt by postulating it was part of a grander theory that you don’t storm the castle wearing Brooks Brothers, it seems I blew this one. Some more:
Trump is obsessed with what his staff wears. Don’t let their costumes distract you. (WashPo – Robin Givhan)
Did Sean Spicer Get a Trump-Approved Makeover? (Hollywood Reporter)