Candidate Noir

Obama in black suit

In his article about the attire of presidential candidates, The New York Times’ Guy Trebay includes a shocking detail:

“That is a tremendous suit you have on,” David Letterman told Senator Barack Obama last April when he made an appearance on the “Late Show.” “That is a very electable suit.”

Mr. Obama’s outfit that night was in some ways standard-issue Capitol Hill: a single-breasted two-button suit whose only nod to fashion was in the choice of color — black in place of the regulation dark blue. His shirt was white and starched. His tie was a reassuring blue and of a width (2.5 inches) that locates him squarely in the middle of the sartorial road.

Woah, even a 3 inch-wide tie is narrow by today’s standards.  Either Obama is trying to look like a member of the Rat Pack or that “2.5 inches” is a typo. 

Izzy is far more concerned, however, about the color of Obama’s suit.  There’s a lot of buzz about whether America is willing to elect a black president, but should we be willing to elect a president who wears black suits?  According to the “rules,” a black suit is quite a gaucherie.  High-end haberdasher Paul Stuart has even bragged that it has never offered a black suit for sale. Excepting the priesthood, black suits are either extremely fashion-y or worn by people who don’t know any better.  They bring to mind the thugs in Reservoir Dogs, the bad-guy Agents in The Matrix, and Cornel West, the faux preacher, Ivory Towered would-be rapper, and Marxian socialist (who, incidentally, makes a cameo appearance in the second and third Matrix movies). 

 Cornel West in black suit

If this is the sort of company Obama wants to visually associtate himself with, then he’s far more out of the mainstream, sartorially, than The New York Times recognizes. 

9 Responses to “Candidate Noir”

  1. Occasus July 24, 2007 at 4:45 pm #

    Apparently I’m one of those who don’t know any better. Why are black suits against the rules for us hoi polloi? (Because I’m definitely not “fashion-y.”)

  2. rightwingprof July 25, 2007 at 10:53 am #

    No, a 3-inch wide tie is not “narrow” by any standards, save perhaps irrelevant fashion designers, nor is there anything inappropriate about a black suit. Fortunately, fashion designers have no affect on business dress, which is the only relevant standard.

  3. Paul A'Barge July 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    Black suit, on a black man.

    I’m thinking of Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammed and the black muslims, what are they called, “Nation of Islam”?

    If that’s what Obama want’s to convey, fine by me, but no way should any of those wackos belong in the Oval Office.

  4. Carrie Ann July 27, 2007 at 1:35 pm #

    Let me get this straight: he’s a black man who wears a black suit, and that somehow makes you think he’s some extremist “wacko?” And that a black Muslim man doesn’t belong in the Oval Office? That’s pretty offensive.

  5. Penelope's Web July 27, 2007 at 5:44 pm #

    The most gentlemanly man I know includes black suits in his wardrobe, and looks wonderful in them.

    If wearing a black suit indicates that this candidate really is a man of the people, IMO it makes him more, not less, suitable for the office he seeks.

  6. Ninjarina July 31, 2007 at 2:48 am #

    Black suits are prominently associated with one thing in this country – funerals.

    I’m surprised he did not try to soften it up with a blue/yellow/pink shirt. It would have been a desperate measure but anything would look better than the stark contrast of the crisp, white shirt against his black suit.

  7. Derek July 31, 2007 at 3:34 pm #

    Isn’t Lincoln predominantly pictured in black suits? Granted, they are probably B&W photos, but I don’t think they look gray at all.

    Also, maybe the choice shows more leadership then “followership.” Before JFK, not many people wore two button suits. Going further back, everyone used to button the bottom button of their coats until King Edward VII stopped buttoning his (the story goes he was too fat to button his and his subjects followed suit).

  8. Carol August 26, 2007 at 4:07 pm #

    That’s ridiculous, Actually he looked extremely handsome in the Black Suit!
    Everyone needs a black suit; it’s the staple, like the “little black dress!”
    Stop with all this Poshy Poo regulations


  1. Ed - July 24, 2007

    Dressed For Success?…

    Manolo for the Men’s Izzy asks the question about the 2008 election: “There’s a lot of buzz about whether America is willing to elect a black president, but should we be willing to elect a president who wears black suits?”……