This is a picture of Google’s Eric Schmidt & Chicago’s Rahm “Crisis” Emanuel from today’s Wall Street Journal story Google Move Buoys Chicago Tech Hub.
Chicago! The city of the walking, and voting, dead: in Chicago when they say they are a “Democrat forever”, they mean it. The Windy City! A fell wind: Chicago is murder central: yes, the bodies are really stacking up—just in time for November. The city of Clout! Where knowing the secret aldermanic handshake is a must to do business.
Schmidt and Emanuel worked out a deal to shift a few taxpayers from the suburbs to the city to create, in Emanuel’s words, a “digital Mecca.” A place where pilgrims go to worship and pray, to knell and adore. Chicago’s version of an Apple store.
But forget all that and look at the picture. Schmidt is not a poor man: his net worth isn’t a googol, but it’s orders of magnitude more than thine or mine. This is a man who if he wanted a candy bar could buy Hershey’s. And Emanuel, he is Boss. Snap his fingers and dozens of scurrying staffers will appear from beneath the cracks to do his bidding.
Both men could therefore afford to dress like men. Both men chose not to.
Schmidt looks like he has just pulled an all-night coding session, played a few hours of Warcraft to unwind, then crashed in the corner atop the (soft) pizza boxes, only to be awakened for a meeting he nearly forgot. The wrinkled, ill-fitting, billowy pullover does nothing to mask his sinking paunch; if anything, it exaggerates the swell. He hasn’t learned that short sleeves are only for vacation and while sporting. He gets points for having a man’s haircut, though, and more for workmanlike glasses.
It’s nice he’s humble enough to wear a name tag announcing “Hi I’m Eric Schmidt”, but a man in his position should embrace the authority that is his. It simplifies. And did you notice he’s carrying a Macbook Air? Wonder if he was able to install Chrome on it.
We can’t see his leggings, but there is a dark patch in the photo which suggests jeans. But I believe they are dark cotton; teacher pants, as Joe Queenan’s daughter calls them.
The overall effect is slobby. There is nothing to him which commands respect, except for knowledge of his bank balance which, while important, should never be the sole criterion of moral worth.
Emanuel is entirely different. He is a politician and is anxious to dress as a “man of the [computer] people”, though he knows he is not. Schmidt pulls that look off because he is. Look carefully: Emanuel is wearing French cuffs, but rolled up. French cuffs are not man-of-the-people wear. The shirt overflows his pants because this was a shirt cut to fit inside pants whose waist is where it should be, and not for jeans, which rest low on the hips.
His jeans are rich-people jeans. These are defined as jeans, made out of cotton, but made to look as non-jean-like as possible while still being jeans. They say, “I’m hip, but I have more money and taste than you.” The last point is debatable because a pair of trousers cut for a gentleman would be cheaper and would look better; but then they wouldn’t be jeans. His belt is expensive, though at least the buckle is simple and tasteful.
Emanuel also scores for his simple haircut—and then immediately loses his points for strapping a cell phone to his belt. He loses more for the shirt pocket pencil. But this is balanced out by his lack of a name tag. Chicagoans had better damn well know who he is. No computer or other toy for Emanuel, either. This is what staffers should carry.
No tie, or other neck-balancing accessory for either man, of course. And no jacket, either. A jacket is nature’s best creation: it covers flaws and accentuates merits. Schmidt’s gut and slopping shoulders need the masking a jacket would have provided, and Emanuel’s diminutive stature could have been heightened by a well-cut coat.
Just when was it that out bettors started dressing worse than us?