Primary duds

Mr. Blackwell selects the best- and worst-dressed presidential candidates.

Published February 1, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Before you know it, President Clinton will be moving out of the White House for good. So now it's time to put the fashion focus on the men who are seeking to sit behind that desk in the Oval Office.

This is purely a wardrobe critique -- I'm keeping politics out of the presidential picture. To be honest, every one of the wannabe nominees favors the tried-and-true traditional look with some important variations. On the whole, they have embraced the dark suit, dress shirt and tie classic combo that works for some and flops for others. There is nary a nose-ring devotee in the bunch -- at least we've got that to be thankful for!

Worst Dressed

Bill Bradley: Fashion apathy has defined Bradley for too long -- in lifeless suits and washed out ties, he resembles a bored banker with too much starch in his shirt. A style-free tranquilizer -- wake me when the primary season is over!

Al Gore: Stiff, stodgy and stultifyingly sedate, Gore's the ultimate Beltway bore in clone-like suits, shirts and ties that pack the fashion punch of Jimmy Carter's cardigan -- he's dressing on snooze control seven days a week. Gore's a snore.

Steve Forbes: Besides the frightening fact that those granny glasses make him look like a prim and proper professor, Forbes flops in other fashion areas as well. In oh-so-stuffy suits and been-there, done-that ties, studious Steve needs to brighten up his blatantly bland image. He resembles a worn-out wax dummy -- the perfect fashion primary pitfall.

Gary Bauer: Trapped in a '50s time warp of wardrobe waste, Gary's scary in catatonically conservative kitsch that has fashion-followers heading for the aisles. Looks like a cut-rate mortician -- with the allure of a moldy mothball!

Pat Buchanan: The luck of the Irish bypassed fashion-challenged Pat in a BIG way! Unfortunately, he resembles a rumpled, crumpled dishrag -- caught in a hurricane. Desperately needs some fashion "Reform."

Best Dressed

Alan Keyes: What can I say? At least he's trying to liven up the lethally low-key fashion landscape with leather trench coats and proper pinstripe suits ... but on the whole, he's still a fashion also-ran in more ways than one.

George W. Bush: Let's be blunt -- charisma has no party affiliation. George W. is a fashion front-runner in beautifully tailored suits, debonair overcoats, crisp shirts and dashing ties. In fact, when it comes to the politics of fashion, he's presidential panache personified!

John McCain: McCain hits the campaign trail looking cool, calm and creatively collected. By mixing flattering navy blazers and bold ties with well-cut suits and subtle accessories, he manages the impossible -- looking conservative without boring the pants off couture critics from coast to coast. A minor miracle!

Orrin Hatch: Naturally, the snappiest one in the bunch just dropped out of the race -- so much for sartorial splendor as we head into the fashion gridlock of a breakneck primary season. Hatch's impeccable use of color, texture and style is effortlessly elegant -- his focused fashion finesse will be sorely missed. A wardrobe winner who knows how to strut his stylistic stuff!

By Mr. Blackwell

Mr. Blackwell has been chronicling celebrity fashion victims since 1960.

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