After every legislative session, Texas Monthly unveils its esteemed list of bests and worsts. But we all know that there’s more to life than lawmaking. So put your politics (and scandals) aside, and hats off to the Best Dressed Legislators of 2009.
10. When Representative Joe Heflin shows up in a suit, it always looks good. He never looks rumpled, and gets bonus points for being one of the few reps that walked in with his suit buttoned, then knew enough to unbutton it when he sat down.
9. We like Senator Steve Ogden because he always looks sharp. He has an old-school polish, best exemplified one afternoon late in the session by his ever-classic navy jacket, white shirt, and deep khaki pants combo, spiced up with an unpredictably bright sky blue tie.
8. She’s in her sixth term in the House, but Representative Geanie Morrison still hasn’t given up on being fashionable. Instead of trending towards the stereotypical frumpy female legislator, Morrison remains elegantly coiffed and irresistibly stylish without pandering to a sea of passing fads or shapeless pantsuits.
7. In a sea of navy, black, and grey, Representative Veronica Gonzales refuses to shy away from bright colors. She glides into the chamber clad in bright reds and yellows without even an ounce of showiness, like a ray of sunshine or a burst of energy. Even better, her enthusiasm for vivid shades is combined with superb taste.
6. With his slicked-back pompadour and thoroughly square jaw line, Representative Allen Fletcher is at first glance reminiscent of Alec Baldwin. But more compelling is his commanding presence, perfect posture, suits in demure colors that fit flawlessly, and a regal feline confidence that reminds us much more of the tiger at the zoo. In a good way.
5. Consistently snazzy, Representative Sylvester Turner impressed us with his crisp suits and refined color palette. He’s also got the most extraordinary dress shoes in the entire House—long and sleek, with a squared-off toe—that only add to his cutting-edge appearance.
4. We appreciate Senator Joan Huffman’s ability to combine youth and professionalism so flawlessly in her wardrobe. Her chic, well-tailored suits have just enough modern touches that she stands out without looking too trendy. In late May, we spotted her in an adorable eggplant print dress, paired with a skinny black belt and black cardigan. As she roamed the Senate floor, her simple, practical black patent flats reminded us that she came to do business too.
3. The first this session to appear in a cream linen suit, Representative Patrick Rose exudes that special breed of Texas confidence in his swagger. He can be found dressed to the nines in steely blues and grays one day, and wearing is black cowboy boots the next. No matter what he’s wearing, we want the name of his tailor.
2. Even if Senator Wendy Davis could only be seen and not heard, she’d still be a force to be reckoned with. The fashion-forward, high-heel loving freshman senator consistently wowed us by bringing a bit of glamour into the chamber without sacrificing even an ounce of credibility.
1. Representative Fred Brown’s daily coordinating tie and pocket square have earned him a reputation at the Capitol for being among the most fashionable, but that alone isn’t why he tops this list. Combined with his well-fitted suits and distinctive color combinations, Brown is elegance personified.
In chronicling the best-dressed legislators, we also came across too many fashion faux pas to ignore. With any luck, these pointers might be a good shove in the right direction towards a 2011 session that’s much easier on the eyes.
• All colors go together in nature. On people, this is not the case.
• Even if you’ve been in the Legislature since the eighties, shoulder pads are out. And if you insist on wearing them anyway, the key is to wear them with such accuracy and grace that we can’t spot them all the way from the gallery.
• If your suit jacket doesn’t button, then you need a new jacket. At the same time, please remember to unbutton said jacket as you sit down to avoid looking like a ten-year-old wriggling in his pew on Easter Sunday.
• If you are wearing dress pants, your socks should reach high enough so that when you cross your leg, there’s no exposed skin.
• Wearing five “classic neutral” shades at once is neither classic nor neutral.
• Buy an iron. Then use it.
• And finally, no white pantsuits. Please.