By Hannah Berman
Despite the fact that I am by no means what could be called a “fashionista,” my clothes are always neat and clean and I believe that I am always appropriately attired. That, however, is about the best that I can say for myself in the fashion department. Nevertheless, one does not need to be fashion-forward to be a critic of style or lack thereof. Therefore, I know a disaster when I see one. And it seems somewhat odd that there are so many fashion disasters in the public eye.
At one time, Hillary Clinton’s penchant for wearing pantsuits drove me crazy. Her husband, Bill Clinton, was elected president in 1992 and was reelected again in 1996. The first inaugural ball for the Clintons was in 1993 and the second was in 1997, and since that time Hillary has never again been seen in a dress or anything even remotely feminine. She is the leader of the pantsuit brigade, which is a dubious honor at best. There is some variety, as some are solid colors and others are striped or plaid. A second variation in her pantsuit wardrobe is that some have high necklines while others are low ones. But pantsuits they are — one and all.
It took some getting used to, but I am proud to say that I mastered my distaste for the obvious lack of variety in her wardrobe choices. I am now able to watch her parading across a stage or sitting in front of a television camera (her favorite spot) for an interview without gagging. This is a major accomplishment for me because, as my children like to remind me, tolerance is not my strong suit. On that point, they get no disagreement from me. What Popeye says works for me: “I yam who I yam and that’s all what I yam.”
Moving past Hillary and her pantsuits, I am still in the gagging stage regarding Elizabeth Warren’s lack of style. When I see that famous storyteller run across a stage, my eyes open wide in disbelief. At least Hillary wore pantsuits in different colors and fabrics. Dizzy Lizzy, as I have come to think of Warren, has never appeared in anything but a pair of black pants and a scoop-neck black top. One can only hope she has multiples of those two items or, at the very least, that she has them laundered. What she wears over the black top, which may be a tank top or a shell, is always a solid-color cardigan. Like Hillary, she, too, displays a modicum of variety, if one thinks of it as variety, but only because each one is a different color.
Why does someone in the public eye wear the same get-up day in and day out? It is my guess that she knocks on her closet door and one of those cardigans pops out. The only uncertainty is what color she will be sporting on any given day or if the cardigan will have a collar. Another variation is whether or not it will have buttons. With or without a collar and with or without buttons, it is a sure bet that each day she will be attired just as she was the day before and the day before that.
Our president is another public figure who doesn’t go in for variety either. In spite of being married to a model, and one who always dresses in the height of fashion, Donald Trump almost always sports a solid-colored red tie. Occasionally, he will wear a blue tie and, less often than that, a striped tie. Perhaps he favors red because he was elected as, and is currently running as, a Republican. I hesitate to actually label him as a Republican since he has changed his party affiliation five times. In 1987 he registered as a Republican, in 1999 he changed his affiliation to the Independence Party, in 2000 he toyed with the Reform party, and in 2001 his affiliation was with the Democratic Party. Fast-forwarding to the 2016 election, he ran for the presidency as a Republican. It’s hard to keep up, but it appears that he has changed his party affiliation more often than he has changed his ties.
Clearly, with the exception of a few, like the beautiful and elegant Melania, and the elegant former first lady Nancy Reagan, a most stylish woman who favored the color red, fashion has no place in politics. That’s just the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435.