The authoritative hand of fashion has become so dulled, and the anything-goes attitude of personal style so pervasive, that nearly every article of clothing can survive attempted annihilation. The black turtleneck can thrive in spite of Elizabeth Holmes’s endorsement; Lanvin flats can rise above “the Soho Grifter” Anna Sorokin’s dubious affection; Savile Row tailoring will press on despite Roger Stone’s best efforts; and the Barbour jacket has risen above Steve Bannon’s attempted putrefaction.
But the skinny suit cannot survive Jared Kushner.
Kushner, of course, has found himself a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, as the New York Times reported last week. As a part of his new post, Kushner has perched his private sector Kushnerettes—career disruptors who are also friends—throughout the government, leaving FEMA veterans and other federal officials exasperated. These are founders of medical startups, like Adam Boehler (who lived with Kushner one summer in college) and Nat Turner (who also used to breed snakes in his childhood bedroom—the kind of fun fact you plunk on your resume to establish rapport during big job interviews); private equity funders, like Dave Caluori, partner at Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe; and “a suite of McKinsey consultants,” reported Politico last week. One senior official described the group to the Times as a “frat party” that has invaded the federal government. “I don’t know how our government operates anymore,” a Republican close to the administration told Politico, adding that the authority granted to these private sector appointees had left them with their “eyebrow raised unbelievably high.”
Kushner has proudly named them his “impact team,” per the Times. The FEMA veterans working on the coronavirus plan, in response to Kushner and his team’s specific look, have called them “the Slim Suit Crowd.”
In a White House where he is above reproach but constantly demanding it, Kushner has made the skinny suit both his security blanket and his uniform of subversion. When Trump first took office, WWD observed that Kushner, with his “fashion-informed, Millennial uniform of sorts” was more likely to have an influence on fashion than Trump. (Indeed: he wears Common Projects, and they end up on sale.)
The suit is now a reminder of his dual role as a maverick scion and hipster titan of industry. (It’s why he looked so silly on that trip to Iraq in 2017, with his bulletproof vest strapped over his prep school class president chinos and blazer.) He gets things that his colleagues and critics, in their baggy, old-guard suits, simply don’t understand—he’s the hip young thing in the room. The skinny suit, after all, is the standard fit for the twenty- and thirty-something class of management consultants, bankers, real estate brokers, and poor little rich sons; for those who use a combination of youth and modeling software to flatten the humanity out of everything; of those types who, more than a decade after graduation, still think the name of their alma mater belongs at the top of their resume. They are the linguistic artisans of garbage language—putting everything into “buckets”; looking at “takeaways”; asking about “value-add.” Peek at the Instagram account @midtownuniform, which lovingly mocks those who wear the tight pants and vest like a merit badge, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.