From the latest episode of Hey, How Fast Can Our Journalistic Standards Sink? we have this gem from Reuters: “Saudi king sits next to Iran’s Ahmadinejad in goodwill gesture.”
If the first rule of journalism is never trust anyone (seriously — if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out) the second ought to be never put “sit” in a headline. Sitting isn’t news. Sitting is the opposite of standing. Sitting is…sitting.
As it happens, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah sat next to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad somewhere in that vast and sandy no-smile zone known as Saudi Arabia. More interestingly, this non-story pointed out that Ahmadinejad was “wearing the dark suit and shirt without tie favored by Iranian leaders.”
Favored by Iranian leaders? That’s a rather blanket statement: I don’t recall ever seeing a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini wearing a dark suit and shirt without tie.
As for other members of the Iranian power elite, it’s true that they favor the dark suit and shirt without tie look, as exemplified by Ahmadinejad. Why’s this? Things getting too hot under the collar?
Probably not: the Iranians have delighted in stirring up hornets’ nests since the days of ancient Persia (just ask the ancient Greeks), and doing so alone isn’t what makes their representatives on the world stage face the cameras sans cravat. According to a BBC report, neckties are for certain anti-fashionista Iranians a symbol of the wicked West, which is bad…so Ahmadinejad and the gang choose aggression via absence, preferring to look like a bunch of divorced stay-at-home Dads trying desperately to gain entry to Cleveland’s hottest nightclub circa 1974.
Of course, any attempt to politicize style only succeeds in negating it, and as long as he continues to do so, at his best Ahmadinejad will only look as good as Chris Christie does at his worst.
Still, this wacky wardrobe wizardry raises some interesting questions — such as, just where does the Emperor of All That Is Right and Good in the World do his shopping? Are all his cotton knits locally-sourced? Is Kazakh fabric off-limits? What about premium Italian linen? I don’t know, and I have a feeling that the Iranian government is about as preoccupied with shopping as Sheldon Adelson is with funding a gay and lesbian youth center in Ramallah.
However, if you do find the modern Iranian leadership look compelling enough to want to imitate (in a world where people pay good money to see the Twilight movies, anything’s possible), here are a few suggestions:
1) Old Navy: It’s not just about cargo shorts anymore. This emporium has cotton and cotton-poly separates galore, many under $25, and you pretty much never have to worry about running into a necktie.
2) Paris: Once you’ve seen the Louvre, you can move on to any number of French department stores and put together pretty much any look you want, 21st-century Persian politico included. For a more vintage look, hit Tati or Les Puces, the flea markets behind Montmartre.
3) W. 23rd St. in Manhattan: Here you’ll find thrift shops galore where the mens’ shirt collars are oversized and unlovely and the prices are low to the point of anti-capitalist. Just the kind of place you’d want to shop if sanctions start eating away at your clothes budget.
4) Palm Springs, Calif.: This desert hideaway and onetime haunt of Liberace has all the charms of the Caucasus with none of the goats. Plus, there are consignment shops galore, so you can pick up some vintage Playboys and Donna Summer LPs for a song, attire yourself accordingly and go to town.
5) The Internet: Doubtless there’s a Website somewhere where with just three or four easy clicks and a credit card you can look like the overexposed pop star and/or scraggly fascist bully of your choice. And — wowsa — you can even do it sitting down.