Portraits by Other Means

Trials, Triumphs, and What They Wore

Trials, Triumphs, and What They Wore
Credit: Llima

I received my first ticket from the fashion police—my aunt Katie—at age five for wearing a red shirt with a pink skirt.

I though it was a beautiful combination, but the sartorial law quickly taught me that my body could not necessarily be draped in my whims. It was important lesson: Even if you don’t care about fashion, other people do, and they will judge you accordingly.

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

The pantsuit is Clinton’s uniform. Hers is a mix-and-match world, a grown-up land of Garanimals: black pants with gray jacket, tan jacket with black pants, tan jacket with tan pants. There are a host of reasons to explain Clinton’s attachment to pantsuits. They are comfortable. They can be flattering, although not when the jacket hem aligns with the widest part of the hips (hypothetically speaking, of course). Does she even have hips?

Stanley McChrystal, Former Commander, U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

McChrystal had already arrived for office hours at 8. Today, he sports blue jeans and an orange plaid button-down, with his shirt sleeves rolled above his elbows. His Timberland boots match a lean but brawny physique; one wouldn’t be surprised—based on his appearance—to learn McChrystal was once a part of the military.

Zahi Hawass, Former Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs

Hawass reached into the back seat for a brown, sweat-stained Stetson hat that, at some moment subsequent to the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, became a key Hawass accessory.

M.I.A., Pop Star

Maya, who was wearing jeans made out of denim that had been quilted into a tribal pattern and a loose crocheted top in red, wanted the Hermione de Paula girls to incorporate her ideas with their existing designs that she had seen on their website. “They have a jumpsuit that I like,” Maya said. “But instead of using their fabric, I want them to use a fabric that’s made from a document I found.” She took out her laptop and clicked on an official-looking typed letter that had been censored. Black bars erased certain words. “I’d like to turn this page into fabric,” she said. “I know someone who can do that. And then I want to take that fabric and make it into a jumpsuit. I’d like to turn censorship into fashion.”

Ben Bradlee, Former Editor, the Washington Post

It was in the course of just such a brunch that Edward Bennett Williams told Ben Bradlee that he was ‘pussy-whipped,’ because he had taken to wearing the broad striped shirts Sally [Quinn] bought for him at Turnbull & Asser.

Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States

I, in my official costume, found myself at the hour of reception he had himself appointed, introduced to a man as president of the United States, not merely in an undress, but ACTUALLY STANDING IN SLIPPERS DOWN TO THE HEELS, and both pantaloons, coat and under-clothes indicative of utter slovenliness and indifference to appearances, and in a state of negligence actually studied.

Oprah, Media Mogul

I chose a jumpsuit to sing with Tina Turner in 1997. I didn’t want to show my legs. You cannot have your legs being compared with Tina Turner’s! My knees were knocking as I walked down the stairs to the stage. I thought, It’s true. People’s knees really do knock.

John Galliano, Fashion Designer

The disgraced former Christian Dior creative director, 50, arrived Wednesday at the courthouse in Paris in a somber black jacket and vest, gray slacks and a loosely tied polka dot scarf around his neck. His hair, often worn in braids, hung limply around his shoulders. He declined to wear a shirt under his vest for the occasion.


TMN Editor Leah Finnegan is from Illinois by way of Texas. She splits her time between New York City and her website. More by Leah Finnegan

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