Well, some Republican legislator had to pick up the gauntlet of high fashion after the departure from the state Senate of Thom Goolsby of Wilmington, a dapper fellow indeed, who turned out every day in everything from dark business wear to ensembles that looked like they were right off the runway in Milan.
Goolsby’s void has gone a wanting, as neither Democratic nor Republican legislators are known for sartorial elegance. Oh, some years back, there were guys who tried to go “out there” with madras jackets, but the madras industry threatened suit, so to speak.
Raleigh had two notably dapper mayors, Tom “Man, he didn’t get that suit around here” Fetzer and Paul “These sport coats are made special for me” Coble. But they got out of politics before going statewide.
Now, thankfully, into the fashion void comes Republican state Rep. Jason Saine of Lincolnton. Close behind him comes the disclosure (Charlotte Observer) that he spent more than $19,000 on clothing with money from his campaign funds, which Saine justified as being clearly lawful. He has to have the clothes, he said, because his has to dress up for the General Assembly. State law allows legislators to spend campaign donations for the expenses of “holding public office,” and Saine says his duds qualify.
So he spent $17,908 on clothes from a custom tailor in Charlotte, saying he needed the suits because he is “short and fat” and getting stuff off the rack, and then tailored, costs “many, many dollars.”
See, the problem with Saine’s logic about having to dress up as a member of the General Assembly is that anyone who’s seen members of the General Assembly knows that the competition for the Jones Street Best-Dressed List isn’t exactly as heated as the annual competition in Vanity Fair. They certainly make their mamas proud in dressing neatly, but they don’t seem to spend a lot of time in the gym getting buffed down to wear those skinny, modern suits. (And yes, OK, the same’s true of most in the newspaper profession.)
I’ve got to believe that Saine is going to be in for it when he goes back to Lincolnton. Some of his salt of the earth acquaintances are going to ride him like a $2 mule:
“Jase ... I gave $25 to your campaign. So I’d like to borrow those loafers for the Kiwanis tomorrow.”
“Jason ... I gave you $100, so I’m going to need that cashmere jacket for Saturday. My dog’s shedding, but don’t worry.”
Fortunately, your correspondent is on the mailing list of the Haband company of Paterson, New Jersey, purveyors of fine clothing, and we of this space are going to make it possible for Saine (whom some in Lincolnton may dub “Jason Saine Laurent”) to save face and money. Herewith an ad from our latest Haband catalog, and yes, this is true:
“Men of all shapes and sizes love our Fit-Forever (registered trademark) Gabardine Suits -- because they can order their exact size jacket and slacks. It’s like getting a custom-tailored suit ... without the tailor! And wrinkles aren’t a problem, either -- the suits are woven of easy, comfortable, no-iron polyester!”
Now I know what you’re thinking, custom-tailored fit, 100 percent unnatural fibers ... gotta go $500, $600, maybe even a thousand bucks. But Haband is offering these suits starting at $19.99!
This kind of bargain will first enable Saine to keep his campaign money and donate it to charity when he’s done in Raleigh, and he’ll still be a fashion icon.
And, friends, be aware if you see Fetzer and Coble looking especially custom-tailored in 2016. It may be a sign of statewide ambitions reborn, if you know what we mean.