As the C-SPAN livestream cameras hover over the chamber and provide a nice aerial view of the house floor, it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope or maybe at a really bad Hieronymus Bosch painting. This week, the 118th Congress sputtered on its remarkable tenth (and counting) failed vote to elect a speaker, which would be chaotic in itself. But when you look at the clothes, things are even wilder: It’s a mist of black and navy blue jackets and dresses milling over a royal blue carpet studded with gold wreaths. One fish, two fish, red tie, blue tie. Occasionally a bolt of vaguely bipartite purple or yellow. “The Washington wardrobe is so standardized that any deviation from the norm stands out, especially on television.” writes Vanessa Friedman from New York Timesreferring to the new Pennsylvania junior senator John Fetterman’s new suit. Politicians have long used clothing to reinforce or undermine their messages. But this week, it’s hard to know where to look.
That said! At first, it’s easy to look at George Santos, the Republican representative from Queens who arrived in Washington this week, immersed in a truly deluded web of lies. On his first day at the Capitol, Santos wore a thin periwinkle blue sweater under his navy blue jacket and sat mostly alone—looking like Washington Post described him, “much like a freshman at a prep school in hell.” That day a photographer caught him in the middle of the gap, face stretched in a wide Ducreuxian inhalation; later he committed Twitter faux pas of menswear wearing a backpack over his suit. The next day, and the day after, he put on a pair of dark-rimmed Clark Kent glasses—another identity? – and mingled with his new far-right friends. According to my colleague watch cognoscente Cam Wolf, on Santos’ wrist sits…a Cartier Santos watch, which Forbes couldn’t help but suggest that it could also be false.