Santorum sweater-vests defeated by Romney’s suits

January 4, 2012

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, left, speaks during a campaign appearance in Knoxville, Iowa. In a Jan. 2, 2012 file photo Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in Clive, Iowa. (Chris Carlson and Charlie Riedel/AP)

The neck and neck race makes it easy to compare both candidates — not just in their campaign (you can head to Post Politics for that), but for their style. It’s Santorum the everyman, wearing a sweater vest often favored by grandpas and college athletics coaches, versus Romney the sharp dresser, whose shirts and suits are well-fitted and look expensive. Though Romney has toned down his wardrobe to a more casual look — like his shirtsleeves above — he’s still often more formal than most of the pack.

Santorum’s vests became a meme after the candidate mentioned to Laura Ingraham that they were his form of power dressing. “If there was one event that really began the moment, it was that speech,” Santorum said, referencing his speech at a Huckabee event in mid-December. “So all the sudden the sweater vest was like, ‘Fear the vest.’”

Soon, it had a Twitter feed, @FearRicksVest, and a Tumblr of the same name. We Pick Rick made a music video, “Sleeves Slow Him Down.”

Santorum told the New York Times that most of his sweater vests were from JoS. A. Bank, but that he has splurged on the occasional Brooks Brothers vest. He owns them in navy blue, gray and tan. Romney, on the other hand, has been referred to as a man who looks like he could model for a Brooks Brothers catalogue. The expensive brand has acquired a legacy of both prestige and contempt — it’s the ultimate political insider uniform — which may be an odd choice in a race where candidates are trying to distance themselves from Washington.

However, at Tuesday night’s victory celebration, recognizing the decorum of the occasion, Santorum wore a suit — looking much like the candidate that barely beat him.


View Photo Gallery: The Iowa caucuses came down to the wire, with Mitt Romney claiming an eight-vote victory. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul won 24.5 percent and 21.4 percent of the votes, respectively.
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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