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Senator Rand Paul is often cited as a candidate who can cross traditional Republican lines and reach new constituencies: youth, civil-liberties types, African Americans. But I think Senator Paul’s influence has now entered the most unlikely place ever for a Republican politician: the fashion world.
Back during the senator’s 2010 campaign, a picture of Paul circulated the interwebs. It showed the candidate waiting to go on TV. He had come to the studio directly from his son’s soccer game, but it was one of those talking-head appearances, in which he would appear only from the waist up. The picture shows Paul’s improvised look: Suit jacket, dress shirt, tie — and matching plaid shorts.
No one else will credit the junior senator from Kentucky, but I think his influence is clear.
Men’s summer fashion has been tricky since we stopped wearing suits as a matter of course. If you live on an island, the Bermuda look can work.
And some men can get away with kiltage for formal dress.
But what the shorts-suit reminds me of most is a stillborn Japanese fashion idea from 2005. As part of its effort to reduce carbon emissions, the government of Junichiro Koizumi pushed an initiative called “Cool Biz.” It encouraged businesses to conserve energy by using less air conditioning during the oppressive summer months, recommending office temperatures of about 80°F. However, the Japanese business class famously eschews casual dress. Koizumi’s solution? The short-sleeved suit. It was so ugly that all images of Koizumi wearing it appear to have been scrubbed from the Internet. (I’d be obliged to any Japan-based Ricochetti who might be able to find one.) Here’s an image that hints at its horrible awfulness (and awful horribleness):
I, for one, would sooner wear a kilt. But then, I’d sooner wear a kilt than wear a short suit. So this summer you’ll find me, once again, in my trademark seersucker suit. Because some summer fashion just doesn’t go out of style.