Bad Fashion, Bad Leader

Last night, we were watching our national news on TV, and Rex wanted to know who the weird guy was in the brown robe. Well, he was watching a clip of Moammar Gadhafi giving a speech wearing a very odd ensemble that included a caramel colored, polyester looking, flowing gown with dolman sleeves, a sash, a hat that looked like it came from the set of the Eddy Murphy movie “Coming to America”, and, of course, his signature “BluBlocker” (as seen on TV) sunglasses. Even a six year old knows a fashion train wreck when he sees one.

Now, I’ve watched Moammar since I was in high school. I’ve always been intrigued by his crazy sense of style that has included Sgt. Pepper uniforms, disco shirts, fatigues, fur hats, etc. Similarly, I’ve always found the perm, zipped up action suits, high heels, and insane eyewear of Kim Jong-Il to be equally as fascinating. Fidel Castro in his track suits and Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his Members’ Only jackets certainly round out the bizarre fashion plate dictators on my radar screen.

What I’ve determined by checking out this group through the years is that their egos are so immense and the people around them are so scared, no one is going to step up to the plate and tell them that they look foolish.

This begs the questions – Is bad fashion the first sign that a leader will run amuck? Or, does poor leadership lead to the bad fashion?     

My guess is that it’s the latter. When individuals get completely out of touch with reality and have too many “yes men”, this breeds bad fashion.

This problem also happens to everyday leaders who aren’t ruling third-world countries.  I used to have a very overbearing boss back in the early 1990s who liked to wear too tight, polyester Angel Flight pants that were hemmed way to short. He wore them with stained Haggar dress shirts and wide striped ties. Like Kim Jong Il, he was a megalomaniac. No one who wanted to keep their jobs was going to critique his disco pants. He eventually helped run the company into the ground.

I also had a female boss many moons ago who liked to wear really short skirts even though her legs had seen better day. She also thought she was hot stuff, and not one person on her staff ever told her that she looked like a street walker.

So, my new theory is that the person with the wildly inappropriate clothing is the same person who throws around their power and has no value for what others have to say.

No, I don’t think everyone should dress alike. In fact, I love personal expression in all forms. However, even a six year old knows when something doesn’t look right. There’s a difference between a chic, fashion forward leader and Gadhafi dressed like a gospel singer. The key is to identify these individuals early on and cut them off before they seize power. The potential boss or client who is dressed like a nut is probably not a good choice in the long run. Once you get beyond their lack of fashion sense, you’ll still have to work with their ego and the inability to take constructive criticism.

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