Many of you may remember Alan Au from an article I posted back in April on style options for shorter men.
Au and his father Jimmy, run Jimmy Au’s for Men 5’8” and Under; a leader in providing tailored clothing to shorter men. Over at The Huffington Post Alan posted a great critical analysis of U.S. presidential candidate John McCain’s wardrobe challenges, which he contends are setting up the candidate for potential defeat. It is an interesting situation, because apart from the obvious comparisons – race and age – the amorphous subject of personal style has an enormous affect on voters in way they don’t consciously consider.
Like him or not, Barrack Obama is a rock star, so much so that McCain has lampooned his opponent’s celebrity in a series of mildly clever commercials – comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. But regardless of his celebrity status on the pop culture front – Obama’s face is on tee shirts that I have seen people actually wearing, a lot – McCain must content with Obama’s “it” factor.
That, I think is one of the drivers behind Au’s interesting article. While he can’t bottle Senator Obama’s charisma, Kennedyesque speaking cadence, or his genuine ability to draw enormous crowds, he can do a better job at refining his own presentation. I have never been one to suggest that people change who they are to please others and I’m not doing that now. I am saying that McCain can take Au’s advice and better edit his packaging.
What I find particularly fascinating about this contest are the sharp lines of demarcation between these two men when it comes to image. While Senator McCain’s people gripe about unfair media bias, Obama’s celebrity-level attention and all those lifestyle magazine covers, don’t think for a minute that they don’t want the same for their man. At the moment, at least to me, John McCain often comes off visually as someone’s grandfather and I suspect that is not his handler’s goal. Obama’s look, modern yet traditional at the same time, brings in an international feel via a monochromatic color palate. Age and personality factor into these differences, but that’s not the only answer.
What do you think – apart from the politics of this race, where do you fall on the style front? Who is winning the perception race?