Anthony Weiner began the summer strong: robust in the polls, not yet the subject of a second sext scandal, and with general skip in his step.
Unsurprisingly, the confidence revealed itself in his wardrobe. The mayoral candidate thundered through the Israel Day parade in a pair of bright blue pants, glided through the Gay Pride parade in a pair of summer whites, and celebrated the dissolution of the Defense of Marriage Act at the Stonewall Inn in bright red.
Though Weiner’s spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, told us at the time that “Anthony wants to lead the fashion capital of the world, so it’s no surprise that he would make fashion-forward trouser choices,” the candidate’s color choices may have been working against him. The Telegraph reported that men who wear red pants are the subject of “public distrust.” As Esquire put it: “The color red draws attention, and red pants, therefore, draw attention to your below-the-belt areas. And considering the man’s track record of inviting attention to that region, we think it’s best that he not do that.” New York called them “gay pants,” and to the Daily News, Weiner’s style was simply “bold-colored braggadocio.”
Then the second wave of sexts hit like a ton of bricks at the end of July—and Sydney Leathers and Carlos Danger entered the public lexicon. The campaign descended into damage-control mode, which resulted in a really wild press conference followed by an intern-targeted PR implosion.
Now, though Labor Day is still weeks away, Weiner’s polls have tanked, his chances are all but nonexistent, and—dare we say it—his pants exude a sudden subtlety. It’s as if, someone—Barbara? Huma?—whispered in his ear, Now’s the time to play it safe.
At the crazy presser on July 23, in which Weiner admitted to sexting even after his resignation from Congress in 2011, he wisely dressed conservatively—in a pair of dark gray slacks, a rolled-up blue shirt and a red tie (extra points for the getting-down-to-business pen in his breast pocket). And the candidate stuck to the script later that week, shaking hands in Staten Island and visiting a soup kitchen in Brooklyn in a similarly understated wardrobe. The “I’m a Serious Politician” theme continued in dark blue slacks and a blue dress shirt while handing out cookies at a senior center on August 5. In panic mode, it seems, the Weiner campaign has realized that public image counts more now than ever before—and the doinky pants weren’t helping.
It may, for once, be a smart move: gallivanting around town in your Nantucket reds as your campaign burns doesn’t really seem like the best strategy.