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The Fate of the Nation Is in Your Four-in-Hands

  • Najib Benouar

As you may or may not have noticed, the first presidential debate happened last night.

And while we’ll leave the parsing of half-truths and double-talk to the pundits, we noticed one glaring difference between the candidates: their tie knots. Obama’s was a study in the perfectly dimpled knot—it’s hard to tell whether it was a half-Windsor or just a masterful four-in-hand, but it was textbook, symmetrical, some might even call it professorial. On the other side of the aisle, Romney went with a taut four-in-hand with no dimple—an old blue-blood affectation that felt unfussy and verging upon Kennedy-esque—another surprise, considering everyone expected him to show up and pull a Nixon (which he managed to avoid). In other words, the ties told the whole story: Obama played it safe while Romney came off surprisingly slick.

Remember, ties have been a major stumping point this election year.

The Vice Squad

debate_crop.jpgGetty Images

Last night’s debate offered one more chronicle of the political world’s baby steps towards stylish behavior. No, we’re not talking about Palin’s winks or Biden’s party-appropriate powder blue tie.

We’re talking about those chalk stripes.

Biden risked looking like a banker—a particularly dangerous move these days—and did the sartorial thing. We knew he was a well-dressed gentleman, but we’re impressed he had the clout to pull this one off. What’s next, wearing gray? Obama may be the first candidate who’s one-button suit material, and it’s nice to know he’s got someone adventurous to back him up.

Based on this picture, it looks like someone else is taking notice too.

The Tale of the Ties


The recent presidential debate has been analyzed to death, but one enormous sartorial story went unreported. At this point, politicians’ only remaining outlet for personal style is their ties, but things can still get complicated, as they did Friday night.

In past years, the democratic candidate has worn a blue tie, while the Republican candidate wears a red, but this always made Bush come off as more dynamic and, well…visible.

This year, Obama broke the party line by choosing a patterned purple number, putting McCain in a potentially awkward position. He couldn’t stay with red or switch to blue without risking an awkward “twins” remark from moderator Jim Lehrer. Cornered, McCain took yet another stylistic chance and opted with a pencil-stripe tie, the first non-solid-color tie seen in American politics since the dandified days of Herbert Hoover.

A maverick indeed.