While I value being an informed citizen, to be completely honest my motives for watching the address were style-driven. I like to scan the room of grey-suited bodies in hopes of seeing one or two exciting dress shirts or ties that aren’t some variation of a shade of red or blue. I like to analyze the outfits, specifically the tie colors, of the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House. The choice of what color tie to select for important political and public-facing events such as the SOTU is a crucial decision on that day, and the color can reflect an official’s political personality, motives, intentions, and attitude towards the event.
Last night we saw the POTUS wearing a sky blue tie, VP wearing a muted grey-blue tie, and SoH wearing a pale green, patterned tie.
Here’s some analysis…
POTUS is obviously a Democrat so a blue tie is hardly anything to get excited about, and yet it is so exciting because if you only read or listened to his speech rather than having watched it, you would expect the president to be wearing either a red or strong blue tie and here’s why: A red tie would have been a visual signal that the president means what he says in terms of encouraging and supporting bipartisan policy and resolutions. A bolder blue tie would have represented individual strength and courage which is what the president was attempting to portray in his many remarks on executive power. However, selecting, or having been selected, to wear a tie in that particular shade of blue signifies optimism and limitless expectation which were two prominent themes in the address.
The VP never fails to bore an audience with his horrible outfit choices and lack of style. If it weren’t for his laugh and occasional overdrawn smile, this guy wouldn’t cross anybody’s radar, including the president. The bland blue-grey tie, which was only a few shades lighter than the suit, did nothing for the outfit as a package, and sent little if any message to the American public, other than reaffirming his position in our minds as a boring and lackluster figurehead. While the VP position by tradition has very little influence on Washington or its leadership, he does have the one duty of standing by the president and acting as a supportive figure. So what he should have worn in terms of a tie, is a light pink, gold, or pale yellow tie. Something in this color scheme would have complemented his suit, enhanced his presence on stage, and sent a non-partisan message of optimism, reiterating that of Obama.
The SoH, John Boehner, was in a different position that the POTUS and VP because he does not share their political party and consequently does not share in many of the ideals iterated by the president. With the shutdown overshadowing any accomplishments of their party, Boehner and fellow Republicans were tasked with restoring (or creating) a positive image in the eyes of the American public. Now, if you ignored the unamused expression and obvious desire to eye roll and only looked at what he was wearing, the SoH probably accomplished that. Wearing a peaceful, soothing color like pale, apple green sends a message that he and his party are ready to make peace with the Democrats and suggests a clean slate in the new year. Also, props to Boehner for breaking the mold and wearing a tie with a pattern other than stripes!