Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign Tuesday, effectively ending what was arguably the only style story to emerge from this election cycle: the sweater vest.
It’s been an unmemorable style season for candidates, says Stacy London, stylist and host of TLC’s "What Not To Wear." “I don’t think anyone’s taking a great stand in terms of what personal style can do,” she told Yeas & Nays by phone. There was Mitt Romney and his New England everyman wear (“he’s just preppy to me”), Newt Gingrich’s unimaginative suits (“I don’t even know what that was”), and Ron Paul…what did Ron Paul wear? Why would you remember?
But Santorum owned the fashion news cycle with his sweater vests, gaining press and buzz for his commitment to sleeveless knitwear. London understands the political appeal of the look. “I’m sure that a lot of people really warmed to him and thought, oh, he’s sort of dad-like,” she suggested. But as a fashion choice, the vest is “an assault on my senses.”
“It makes me think of seventh grade,” she said. “A grown-up man? No. No. Not unless you’re playing tennis.”
London is no stranger to politics, having grown up the daughter of New York politician Herb London, whom she would like to see give up pleated pants once and for all. (“He’s a conservative man and a conservative dresser.”) Throughout the decades she watched his campaigns for comptroller and governor, plus the national races, there’s one politician who stands out as the best-dressed: President Obama.
“I really think he pays a great deal of attention to his presentation,” London said. “And it’s not simply about the tailoring. He stands up so straight. He has incredible posture. It works.”
There’s still room for improvement though. “He could really play with color,” London said. “I’d love to see him do gray and bright green. It’s a pipe dream. A girl has to dream.”