Q: Why do a lot of entertainers and sports stars have to wear those bright-colored suits? When I see a 300-pound man in a canary yellow suit, it just reminds me of Big Bird.
Benjamin Sutton, Suitland
A: In some cases, you may just be having a subconscious adverse reaction to the way people from other cultures and backgrounds like to dress when it's time to look good; for these men, the bold, beautiful, expensively custom-tailored suit is just one of the outward expressions of fame in the world of candy-hued pop culture. Clothes like this bespeak (at least for the wearer) a kind of regality, a sense of being apart: The black man in the yellow (or purple plaid, or cherry red) silk suit, for example, is somehow transmitting that he is not of the same cloth as those powerful (frequently white) men in pinstriped gray Armani suits. (Though he'll happily own plenty of those, too.) And let's face it. Though their reasons may vary, all celebrities dress to draw attention. Maybe they think they're superheroes.
For a long time I was bugged by the rainbow-bright spandex outfits worn by Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, et al., because I thought they were over the top, even for comic book characters. Last fall, while interviewing Alex Ross (perhaps one of the most famous artists in comic books right now), I asked him why he celebrates, rather than updates, garish superhero garb? It's simple, Ross said:
Superheroes dress that way so people will always see them coming. It's like the lights on a police car. Superheroes, like many pop stars, come from difficult backgrounds. They are orphans, outsiders, picked on, attacked. They want to wear something that says: "Here I am, at last, the strongest man alive. Don't mess with me."
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