I figured all the other pundits are writing their election 2010 post mortems so why not weigh in myself while wearing a fabulous Democratic Fashion Institute chapeau.

Stop reading right now if you are one of those liberals who think that we should be “above what people look like” and still hope our folks freaking get elected. They won’t, especially when most of them look like visual image-road-kill.

How many times do I have to say it… I don’t care what you are saying or how smart you are; I can’t hear you if I’m completely distracted by how crappy or inappropriate you look.

As Chairwoman of the Institute,  I get photos, texts, email and comments on the DL from folks all over the state. My army of DFI minions armed with cell phone cameras are everywhere.

I soon regretted not having actual blank fines printed. They would have been so much easier to walk around with. At the convention I could have simply checked off the offense(s) then noted suggested remediation and moved on. Hopefully never having to point it out again. Sigh, oh well, 2012 will be here soon enough, and no doubt some of the offenders/retreads will be back.

For starters let’s review the ground rules, they are few and relatively simple. The fact that so many screw up so badly still baffles me.

1. I expect all candidates and their visiable campaign staff/spouses to be dressed like professionals. Really, is this so hard to do? Apparently it is.

2. I expect everyone to have achieved basic good personal hygiene, at all times, on all occasions-you are only exempt if you actually  ran the Peachtree Road Race that day and till have the number attached to your shirt! Maybe this should be number 1, I can’t even believe I had to type it.

3. Shoes must be shined and appropriate for the outfit/occasion. Busted out heels, hooker heels, uber trendy boots are a big giant fine waiting to happen. One candidate was so consistent in her hideous shoewear I might name a special fine in her honor.  Trust me when I tell you, you don’t want to win that award.

4. Clothing must be pressed and clean. Again, how f’ing hard is this. The “rumpled” look got old-fast. One candidate was channeling a character what I can best describe as  “country lawyer circa 1952”.  Frankly,  we have one of those, his name is Bobby Lee Cook and he never ever looked as bad as this guy did.  It’s 2010- dry cleaners and starch are pretty much assumed and expected in professional attire ( see #1)

5. I recognize that very few people running for office are going to look good all the time. Everyone will have a bad day-shocker it’s hot all summer. It’s a big state to drive around in. Plan for this. Honestly it isn’t a surprise that Valdosta will be boiling hot in July-but you should build in enough time to swap out a shirt, and freshen up before rolling up on potential voters. Take off that jacket before sitting in a car for 3+ hours. It’s called a hanger, get one, use it.

6. Colors: learn which ones work for and against you. Seek professional help if necessary. Listen to them.  Here’s a tip for free: if you are a old white guy with white hair ; don’t wear a beige suit. Prints, will generally work against you, usually they are too busy and will remind folks of their aunties couch slipcover. Here’s an even bigger no no, don’t wear a particular color to an event where folks will be insulted by your choice. If you are not an AKA, don’t show up in pink and green!

7. Ugly ties, I lost track of those fines mid May. I wish I could have cut them off a couple folks just so I didn’t have to see them ever again.

8. Flesh. I don’t want to see very much of it. Ladies, unless you have Michelle Obama’s awesome arms and shoulders… all that stuff wagging back at me when you wave should be covered up! Men, that collared shirt better only have one button undone. The second is pushing it, a third undone-I’m going to assume you are trying out for a disco show and not running for office.

Finally, and I really can’t stress this enough, learn good posture and command of your body language. Own the space you are in, demonstrate confidence. Slouchy, timid body language tells me you are weak and I shouldn’t vote for you. Nothing you say will change that.  This is why I love our vets, they never ever make this mistake. Ummm maybe DFI needs a boot camp.

I hold off saying anything publicly during the campaign season mostly because I don’t want the opposition to use it in a twisted way. Sometimes I’ll mention something to a campaign team member and I let them decide what to do with the information.  Mostly that’s a big fat nothing, and a most unfortunate  decision for all concerned.

I issued repeated fines to one campaign-so large, in fact, had they paid them it would have halved the national debit and made Jason Pye very happy. Sorry Jason, maybe 2012.

On the flip side, there are some DFI rock stars. I’ll only name a few-but if you saw them on the trail, I’m sure you’ll agree with me why they are examples folks should follow.

Darryl Hicks. The man always looked professional, cool, calm and collected.

Congressman Lewis. Always consistent, always appropriate and can still rock a t-shirt at a rally.

Ken Hodges. He looked exactly the part of Attorney General.

Alisha Thomas-Morgan. Fabulous, age appropriate clothing-great colors, good quality, stylish outfits at all occasions.

Elena Parent. Exactly same as Alisha, but add a whole wardrobe of maternity cloths to that!

In closing, DFI is here to help. This post isn’t meant to mock-but to instruct.

Remember you can’t run a radio image campaign in a multi-media century.

Geesh didn’t we learn that during the Kennedy Nixon debates?


9 Responses to Post Mortem: The DFI Edition

  1. FashionBitch says:

    @JMP… I disagree about Mark Taylor. He and his team always looked professional. The green and blue ties were labeled by some as hokey-but I liked them. It reinforced a theme and unified their overall look.

    • Stefan says:

      I still have my green and blue tie!

    • JMPrince says:

      You’re right of course FB, but I was thinking of someone with a similar size issue who’s currently(?) a non com. And of course going custom is really no way of remaining ‘unrumpled’, even with the addition of lots of sticky starch. But yeah, thanks for the memories there. And the reminder of the forests felled over Hillary’s pants suits too. Good times of course! JMP

  2. JMPrince says:

    All well & good, and still somehow likely to ‘disqualify’ a goodly portion of our candidates. Say better than 50% on a very good day. And Federally, it’s largely the same. While Nancy P is well known for her expensively fashionable frocking, still somehow the entire ‘ensemble’ effect seems less than endearing or even ‘comfortable’ for many. Despite her considerable talents & hard works. On the Senate side I can not think of anyone in the leadership well turned out since George Mitchell of ME was fighting Daddy Bush’s minions. And that’s where there’s really plenty of money for the fine ‘dressage’ show. And we’ve got plenty of suited wonders that are barely more impressive than their again fashionable & very expensive bespoke Italian suits.

    And then there’s the whole issue of say ‘size & shape’. For many older pols, they never quite look ‘good’ even well suited. The lovely Tip O’Neill comes to mind here. There’s also certain real constraints here when it comes to size. Bobby Lee is always fashionably & classically turned out Ca. 1950-1974, but being a thin smaller man, he’s got plenty of suiting options. Someone like say Mark Taylor does not. We’ve got more in the later camp than the former. Sadly this is the way of almost all flesh as we get older & yes fatter. As a population too. But the points about the heat & changing out shirts & all are all fine, as long as one has the time to do this or remember to pack accordingly for each & every excursion. And goodness gracious. People luved Ronnie Ray-gun, and yet the man was almost singularly responsible for bringing the yes, [Fuzzy!] Brown suit back into ‘style’. It’s stunning to see pics of the era, truly. ‘That’s the Movie Star?!’ Silly, really.

    As for the shoes? I almost always notice them too. A man’s miserable worn out shoes used to be a mark of his honesty & frugality. I assume there’s a story behind the boots too, but who knows?

    And the fashion press has been pretty consistently favorable to the Obama’s too. I’m certain that added several points to their popularity, but at the moment? Most of that’s accruing to Michelle. JMP

  3. Stefan says:

    That’s an excellent post. It really speaks to one facet of the difference between what the campaign is and what it needs to portray. Sometimes the mess that is the campaign leaks out around the edges.

    It is difficult to tell your candidate to change his clothes, but it is nearly impossible to fix the spouse.

  4. Gunner says:

    Favorite.Quote.Ever. “My army of DFI minions armed with cell phone cameras are everywhere.”

  5. FashionBitch says:

    @GA Politico I’m not a DFI Board member, but I’d call it more uniform than anything else. Always the same, just like her husbands outfits at the capitol.

    Sadly, she had more to work with than almost all the candidates running-and went the safe route-kind of like all her non -policies and campaign speeches.

    Although, she once wore these fantastic zebra shoes at a women’s event in Macon, and frankly I thought she should have done more of that.

  6. GAPolitico says:

    How would you rate Carol’s wardrobe throughout the campaign?