FIVE MONTHS INTO THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY, ARE YOU FEELING A LITTLE MORE SANGUINE ABOUT HAVING A SMALL CHILD LEADING THE FREE WORLD? NO, NOR AM I. AND THE LONGER HIS TENURE AND THE LONGER HIS TIE, THE LESS SANGUINE I BECOME.
You elect a seventy-year-old toddler to the White House and – let’s face it – there are going to be issues; specifically, testiness, tantrums, needy and demanding behaviour, impulsive grandstanding, self-contradiction, self-absorption, inappropriate outbursts in public, inarticulate ranting, petulance, a tyrant complex, a chronic inability to relate to how the rest of the world works and, of course, that strained – almost vacant – expression that suggests either (a) the nappy’s filling up or (b) he’s forgotten how he was going to pay for The Wall. So, I ask you, is it therefore any surprise that The Trump cannot dress himself?
Just what is going on with the pendulous ties? Surely, you must have noticed; indeed, as worn by Donald, a tie isn’t so much a tie as an elongated codpiece. Why does he make the fat bit so long and the thin bit so short and then stick them together with Scotch tape? Does he have a lucrative deal with a chic fashion-house that pays by the yard for the exposure or does he just think it looks ‘kinda swell’ for the end of his tie to be hanging somewhere between his knob and his knees? And what happens when he takes a leak, for Heaven’s sake? How does he avoid wiping the end of it round the urinal and getting his – soggy – silk end stuck in his zipper?
Yes, okay, I hear what you’re saying; there’s more to worry about with Trump than a minor wardrobe malfunction. The Obstruction of Justice springs to mind. Sharing classified information with borscht-eaters without first checking with The Company. The list goes on. But that’s my point. Here’s a man who’s the Chief Executive of USA PLC, the Chief Legislator and Diplomat, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces yet he doesn’t understand how a tie works. I’m not sure it gets any scarier than this.
Obviously there are theories and obviously some theories are more obvious than others. Patrick Grant, the Creative Director of Savile Row tailors, ‘Norton and Sons’ says Donald’s Dangler is ‘a deeply Freudian effort to compensate for physical inadequacies … and to draw attention to his intellectual centre, the font of his spiritual power and the source of his vital energy behind his zipper. It’s as obvious,’ says Patrick, ‘as a ‘One Way’ sign and deeply phallic.’
Others aren’t so sure. Some think the ties are tied longer ‘to balance the shoulder line on his suit’, the shoulder line being important because – as Presidents go – he’s narrow across the mantelpiece and heavy in the hearth. This – supposedly – is why you never see Trump ‘sans’ jacket, given the length of the tie would ‘look doubly odd in the absence of a suit with overcut shoulders.’ I have to say I’m not sold on this idea but – either way – a five-foot tie is a tailor-made disaster unless, as personal stylist Jessica Cadmus has pointed out, your name’s Krusty the Clown and you work at the circus.
Incidentally, Jessica – aka ‘The Wardrobe Whisperer’ – has a theory of her own, hers being that he buys his clothes ‘Italiano’ – specifically ‘Brioni’ ties – which are an inch or two longer because Italians – not least Sicilians – tie a bigger knot, the trouble being Trump then ties a half Windsor instead of a full Windsor, which is why he ends up looking as though he’s on a leash. The problem with this theory is that it assumes that Trump’s ties are an aberration and if you’re as self-absorbed as The Donald, that’s not terribly likely. Here’s a man who – apparently – insists that White House women ‘dress like women’ and who once upbraided White House Press Spokesman, Sean Spicer, for wearing an ‘ill-fitting suit’ at his first news conference. So while he may not know much about art, he – clearly – knows what he likes.
Indeed, you can only assume that it’d be a very brave White House staffer – of either sex – who’d draw the President’s attention to his own sartorial malfunction. ‘Hey, Trumpster, what’s with the crotch-skimmer tie?’ To be honest, I can’t seriously see even the preposterous Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, joshing the POTUS with that one. And, again, why would you waste your creative intelligence on an extra three inches of tie when the man’s hair – as was once pointed out – looks as though he’s just stuck his head in a Dyson Airblade.
But the FLOTUS is a different matter; not just because she’s his wife but because she’s a one-time, professional mannequin who still wears it rather well; cornflower cashmere by Ralph Lauren, Herve Pierre leather skirts, Stella McCartney jumpsuits, Christian Louboutin pumps and YSL python-embossed belts. Surely she must have pulled his chain at some point and told him to shorten up? But then do these two ever talk? Indeed, has anyone, anywhere ever seen them exchange a single word? Well, precisely.
Which is another reason why this is an issue that’s absorbing psychologists as much as ‘phashionistas’. Richard Thompson Ford writing in Donald’s newspaper of choice, ‘The New York Times’, said Trump’s ties are little more than a ’macho boast …[from a man] … born into wealth … but rejected by the elite as a crass, outer-borough pretender …[the ties] … being a defiant symbol, a middle-finger pointed at the blue-bloods of blue-state America.’ Hey, this is more like it. Now we’re talking.
Certainly Trump has hallmarked a brand, a signature look – boxy suit; wide, long red tie (red – of course – being the colour of fire, violence, wealth and sex) – that’s as recognisable – as has been widely noted – as ‘a Nike Swoosh or a MacDonald’s Golden Arch.’ Indeed, as Adam Tschorn, the deputy fashion editor at ‘The Los Angeles Times’ puts it, Trump and his tie are an item. ‘The Madame Tussaud’s wax figure is him with a red tie. The piñatas that people were bashing … [post-election] … were the orange hair, the blue suit, and the red tie. The accessory,’ says Adam, ‘has become indivisible from his persona.’
And – no question – here is a man for whom size – and thereby length – always matters, whether you’re talking about (a) the popular vote (b) the Inauguration Day crowd (c) his penis or (d) as here, the length of his tie. Indeed you sense that the tie is – as Beth Teitell wrote in ‘The Boston Globe’ – almost ‘a strategic decision, sort of like the manic early-morning tweets from the White House that are purportedly meant to distract us from other issues.’
But as Teitell also – sagely – points out, there’s no escaping the fact that here is ‘an amply sized man who seems to value a trim appearance … [and who] … may be trying to hide a problem area; the problem area…[being] … of course, a prodigious gut’. Thus can the tie be seen – more prosaically – as a trade off; shorter is conventional but leaves it lying on top of the paunch and thereby exaggerating Dunlop’s Disease; long – granted – gives the impression you’ve been dressed by a chimpanzee but at least you look less like a porker.
Trivial as this may sound, clothes are – and have always been – a window onto the Presidential soul. Obama – Family Man – loved the Dad jeans; Bush – Texan and a tit – was all ten-gallon hat and no cattle and Clinton – the sexual predator – was rarely seen jogging anywhere without his shorty shorts. Thus do Trump’s ties symbolise Trump, specifically, as one observer put it, his ‘aggression and stubbornness’, a little like the surly Sixth-Former whose rebellion against the tyranny of the staff-room is characterised by an unfettered top button and a half-mast tie.
Which means we all need to keep a weather eye on the President’s neckwear. The more neurotic, insecure and embattled the Man-Baby becomes, the longer the ties and the greater the chance of him doing something calamitous. So, eyes on the ties, folks. World peace may – yet – rest upon it.
23 MAY 2017