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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 01/04/2012

Santorum sweater-vests defeated by Romney’s suits

The vested candidate has been bested — but by just eight votes. Much fuss was made over Rick Santorum’s choice of attire before the Iowa caucuses, once the candidate had taken to wearing sweater vests to public forums. But his campaign, perhaps emboldened by a “Fear the Vest” meme that took off a few days before the vote, was edged out by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
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.

By  |  11:20 AM ET, 01/04/2012

 
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