When he looks at action shots from this summer’s Republican and Democratic gubernatorial debates, Arron Gober can’t help but shake his head.
The Tallahassee-based custom clothier is very, very disappointed at the sartorial choices made by the majority of the candidates from both parties, doing his own call-and-response commentary.
“What do you see? You see dark, navy blue suits, right? Do they have any personality to them? Not really. Do they look like they have for the last 30 years? They do, don’t they?”
Of the seven, only Democrats Jeff Greene in a greyish suit and Gwen Graham wearing black and white broke the mold.
Gober implores candidates to throw out the tropes about “power” colors and rules about what reads well on television — and embrace a softer, friendlier, more approachable palette.
Which still includes blue. And maybe some subtle check patterns.
“Royal is a little-more-friendly shade; you can even get into things like your blue/gray,” he points out. And if they’re not ready to put the navy out to pasture, choose a pattern that softens it with a blue that’s a couple shades lighter.
Candidates should also update their thinking on what works for television beyond the single-colored coat and plain white shirt. “That was what everybody was told to wear, but what do we have today that throws off everything that they were taught? High Definition. Before that you couldn’t wear a small checked shirt because it would cause lines to go bzzzzzt,” he says. “Not on high definition; now you can see the pores, you can see the makeup on the face when you look at all of them because they all have it on there.” Pattern, it seems, is no longer the camera’s bogeyman.
Gober sat down in his capital city atelier and gave Florida Politics commentary on each of the gubernatorial candidates and some suggestions for how Election Day’s two survivors might up their wardrobe game in the General:
“I do like the way Putnam started out with his ads (but) I think it should have progressed into a more governor-type look. His message was there, but when I see him in work pants and a Columbia shirt every day in my Facebook ads, I’m still seeing an agriculture commissioner.”
“Ron DeSantis, he’s been in Washington for three terms. He looks like it; he looks like the rest of the guys there. They’re all red powerful ties, yellow powerful ties — the old power colors.”
“Gwen’s kind of the wild card, she has incredible style; I’ve watched her for years. She tends to know how to dress for every event. Speaking about the white jacket she wore for the Democratic debate he said, “I wouldn’t have picked that out — unless you wanted good guys wear white hats, maybe that’s what that’s for. But as a rule, she’s appropriate in a lot of things she wears when she goes from dresses to skirts to pantsuits to suits.”
“Mayor Levine, he knows what he’s doing. He’s been mayor for a long time and dresses very appropriately, but what we see in the debate … they’re all stuck in navy blue suits.”
“Out of all of them, Andrew is one of the Top 2 dressers. He knows it’s a position, it’s a title and you’ve got to kind of dress into that. But when you see him on the campaign trail, he’s got the Andrew Gillum shirt on with a pair of nice dress slacks. And then when you see him at a FAMU game he’s decked out in FAMU attire. He gets it.”
Still, Gober was disappointed that Gillum chose the throwback navy suit for the debate. “If you’re going to be the progressive candidate, which he is, then his dress should be progressive also. It should be much more friendly, much more toned down too, even going into a soft coat — which has no shoulder pads to it — elbow patches, the works … It should be something really kind of fun that will represent him. But then when he’s governor and he’s meeting with U.S. senators, put the shirt and tie on and you know he looks really good in it.”
“I do believe Greene has some style and taste. Obviously, he’s a billionaire. But I did notice a lot of his suits had pleated pants, which are way out of date. Of all of them, he’s got one of the better senses of color. You can see it because he tries different things. He could use a little better fit and a little better coordination with ties, but those are all minor details. Greene’s image file is filled with step-and-repeat shots from Palm Beach fundraisers, where he’s wearing more colorful, casual garb which gets Gober’s approval: “He dresses appropriately for where he lives and the company that he keeps.”
“I didn’t address King. I didn’t even know he was in the race. I almost would say it’s like the campaign, he’s not really there. But he looks fine. He falls into the exact same thing (navy blue) the rest of them do.”