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- September 16, 1996
- Vol. 46
- No. 12
Fashioning the Campaign
They've Thrown Their Hats in the Ring, but It's the Rest of the Wardrobe That Determines a Winning Style
The President elects Italian-cut, blue or gray, two-button suits, size 44 long—frequently by Donna Karan. Bob Dole opts for dark-blue Brooks Brothers suits, size 43 long. Sometimes he splurges on made-to-order clothing by Sabatini Custom Tailor in Arlington, Va. "He knows exactly what he wants," says Isaac Sabatini. "He likes simple things."
White straight-collar shirts get Clinton's vote. "He's not much for button-downs," says his former tailor, Charles Carroll of Little Rock. Dole, who bans buttoned sleeves because of his disability, wears white Brooks Brothers shirts with French cuffs and cuff links.
Dole prefers neckwear with small geometric patterns, but he has been known to tie on an elephant or two. Clinton's more liberal platform calls for stripes, dots and diamonds—and whatever constituents send him. "He breaks rules with his neckwear," says Eric Hertz of the Fashion Association, a Manhattan trade group.
Clinton wears Allen-Edmonds black cap-toes, size 13D, while Dole sanctions size 11AA black loafers.
Dole "never goes for a lot of color," says his tailor Isaac Sabatini. That explains the subtle hues (above right) that he wore to a party in his honor at a D.C. senior citizens center July 22 before flying to his hometown of Russell, Kans. (above), where he celebrated his 73rd in khakis.
A day after resigning from the U.S. Senate, citizen Dole attended a rally in Chicago in a traditional sport coat and slacks, which Mary Finch Hoyt, former press secretary to First Lady Rosalynn Carter, says characterize him as "the definitive dude."
Dole (with Elizabeth in Miami, April 9) wears shorts with elastic waists (rather than drawstrings) because of his war injury, he told The New York Times.
Poolside in shorts, with that all-important accessory—a phone—in Bal Harbour, Fla., April 1, Dole trimmed down one size for the campaign, says his tailor. "What you're wearing isn't near as important as what you're thinking," says Lady Bird Johnson's staff director Liz Carpenter.
Clinton blew out 51 candles (in Manhattan, Aug. 18) in a presidential style he owes to tailor Saul Obarzanek, who says he advised the Chief Executive on matching "the suits with ties according to color and by saying, 'Wear this with this, this with this.' "
Leaving the White House March 30 on his way to play a round of golf, the vest-dressed President "conveys his personality, his every-guy kind of feel," says fashion expert Eric Hertz.
Teeing off (in Coral Gables, Fla., in April) in a pink polo and chinos, Clinton "looks best casual," says Details editor Joe Dolce. "Casual clothes reinforce that he's a baby boomer. There's a little sexiness there."
Bill and Hillary (strolling in Lyons, France, on June 29) "have used more sports clothes than any couple in the White House," speculates Liz Carpenter.
Counter to the punchy palette that is trademark Elizabeth, Hillary prefers quieter shades. Lately, notes her designer pal Connie Fails, there's "more simplicity in her clothes," such as the rose quartz Dana Buchman suit (right) she donned in Poland in July.
Hillary pushes First Lady fashion into the future by wearing pants, as she did on a July visit to the Czech Republic (below). "She can wear them well, she's a young woman, and it's very appropriate," says Liz Carpenter.
Elizabeth and Hillary take different formal approaches. Elizabeth, dressed in prim taffeta at a June gala, "has been a lady all her life," her sister-in-law Bunny Hanford told Vogue. "She just doesn't know any other way." Hillary (in Oscar de la Renta at a Tokyo banquet in April) is not afraid to dress sexy. "She looks sophisticated in black, and the neck is softer than when she's buttoned up," says Liz Carpenter.
With an eye for bold outfits, Elizabeth stands out in a crowd. Her office, though, will only reveal that these suits are "not commercially bought." "Simple, relaxed and friendly—wonderful for the campaign trail," says Mary Finch Hoyt of Dole's June San Francisco turn (left). Elizabeth also repeats her clothes often. D.C. dry cleaner Hyo Whang says he sees her "at least once a week."
First there was Nancy Reagan red, then Barbara Bush blue. Could Elizabeth Dole pineapple be far behind? "It's like a ray of sunshine," says Dole, who delivered her spellbinding address to the GOP convention last month (below) in a bright variation.
When it comes to clothes, the Clinton-Gore ticket (above, at the Democratic Convention Aug. 29) is a perfect match. The President and Vice President have the same waist (38) and jacket measurements. "They need large sizes," says Saul Obarzanek, tailor to the 6'2" Clinton and the 6'1" Gore. Hillary's and Tipper's paths sometimes cross at the preppy clothier Talbots.
The Kemps (below, with the Doles at the Republican Convention Aug. 15) side with their running mates on the style issue. Kemp's monogrammed cuffs pair up with Dole's French counterparts, while Joanne, far from being in Elizabeth's shadow, has walked the runway for GOP and charity fashion shows and was praised by the Chicago Tribune for her "almost-tousled" salt-and-pepper hairdo.
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