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Donald Trump does not dress like his followers.
Oh, well, okay, other than the hat.
They all wear the hat.
But in general, Trump, as we’ve already is established, is “a suit guy.” He even favors them for his nine year old son, Barron. He has been wearing them since the 70’s, he loves them, it is his preferred style.
However, if you look into that sea of white faces that have flocked to Trump’s earlier rallies, you won’t see many suits. Once and a while you’ll see the polo shirts or button downs that Trump wears on an off day, but it’s largely a crowd that prefers t-shirts. If you really want to see button down shirts (often coupled with sweaters that make supporters look like the dad on Family Ties or loose blazers that make them look like, well, Bernie Sanders), you need to go to Clinton rallies.
At Trump rallies, the same affection for business casual does not prevail. Instead, you will see a whole lot of those baseball caps Trump wears. You’ll also see baseball caps that have nothing to do with Trump! Those presumably just telegraph that the attendees enjoy baseball, the most traditional and inoffensively American pastime.
To accompany the hats, you’ll see a parade of t-shirts in bold colors, coupled with high cut jeans. There’s a certain sartorial genius to a t-shirt. It is a clothing choice that makes it clear that you do not think you are better than anybody else. It may not be especially interesting, but unless someone is wearing it to a wedding, it’s utterly unobtrusive. No one will ever think someone is putting on airs for wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans.
Nor would you think that from any of the rest of their style choices. The young women in Trump’s crowds have long hair, the older women have progressively shorter hair. If their hair is notably dyed, then it’s dyed blond. Despite my efforts, I’ve yet to find a male Trump supporter with long hair or hipster-ish facial hair. These may not be interesting choices from a style standpoint, but they are certainly wardrobe choices would not offend your conservative Grandfather from North Carolina.
The only time the protesters seem to exercise a lot of creativity is when they dress up as some version of Uncle Sam or the American Flag. These outfits are unfailing bizarre, but they do still fit into the category of things that are generally okay with your conservative granddad, insofar as the people are presumably doing it to show patriotism. An excellent example is this man, who has dressed as a very angry, brunette, bedazzled Uncle Sam:
It’s an unusual experience to flip through dozens of photos of hundreds of people wherein almost all of them have the same skin color (91% of Trump’s supporters are white), wherein they are dressed largely alike, wherein they all essentially have the same four or five haircuts. With the exception of the red-white-and-blue guys, leafing through these pictures is a fairly dull experience.
They homogeneity of these outfits — their remarkably traditional, normalcy — seems a rebuke of Noel Coward’s notion that “very few people are completely normal, really, deep down in their private lives.” These are outfits selected by people who would likely reply to that quote by saying that they are very normal, and so are all of their friends thank-you-very-much, not like some people in New York and “Hollyweird.”
But then, that makes sense. Trump himself has a tendency to villainize anyone who deviates, in any way, from the traditional societal norms. If Trump supporters dress in the tamest way possible it may be because the entire campaign seems to bespeak a longing for a country where nearly everyone looks the same.
Compare those to the outfits that non-Trump supporters wear. Those people are interested in standing out. They come to protest in hot pink Doc Martens:
And you see a pretty wide diversity of hair colors:
And you find different hair lengths! I was initially excited because I thought I found a male Trump supporter with long hair, but no, these are protesters, protesting at one of his rallies.
If these protesters do not dress better, because that might be a matter of opinion, they dress more interestingly. They dress like people who do not care if someone tells them that their hair color of choice is “weird” (because if you wear anything other than a t-shirt and a plain pair of jeans in many parts of the country, someone will think it is “weird.”) They dress like people who would not view being told they are weird as necessarily a bad thing. They dress with a certain flourish that bespeaks sartorial bravery.
Part of that may just be a product of that fact that protesters often operate outside the cultural norms. But in a Trump worldview, where women are expected to be perfect 10s, or at least not demanding in any way, and men are expected to be… white… many of the protesters surely know that trying to fit in among the Trump crowd would be a losing game anyway. And since so few of us are truly normal, deep down, in their private lives, surely it’s a losing game for most of us.