Esquire’s Best Dressed Man of 2013

I didn’t see this one coming.

And even Esquire has to explain themselves:

An unconventional choice to be sure, but hear us out.

Esquire’s “Best Dressed Man” for 2013 is …  [drum roll] … Pope Francis! They write:

The opulent jewelry and fur-lined capes of yore have given way to humbler dress, and this break from aesthetic tradition says a lot of the man and what he hopes to achieve while doing his earthly duties.

Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant professor of menswear design at FIT, says of Pope Francis:

I remember when John Paul II was buried in those opulent bright red shoes. When the current pope was elected and chose not to wear the red shoes I thought that was very reflective of his approach to being a person functioning in a role.

Mary Lisa Gavenas, author of The Fairchild Encyclopedia of Menswear, says:

Pope Francis understands that menswear is meant to express the character of the man wearing the clothes.

Ann Pellegrini, Associate Professor of Performance Studies & Religious Studies at New York University puts it this way:

The humility of his garments offers a way to visibly display his theological and material concerns for the poor. This Holy Roman emperor really does have new clothes.

Esquire calls it “progressive orthodoxy.” I like that!



  1. What would be much more interesting is imagining what kind of challenge that someone with the moral imagination of Pope Francis would be inspired to make in response.

  2. Somehow, I suspect that there are many women across America who struggle to have their men “dress up, ” and they may not be very happy with this development.

    My father, a steel worker, had very simple tastes in everything. He was a meat and potatoes man. Not that he would not eat the elaborate desert, or appreciate the special meal. He was mainly happy with these things because it made my mother happy doing such things. But he would have been just as pleased with the essentials.

    My father also had very simple tastes about shelter. The important thing was that everything was sturdy, and safe, and worked well. That we had a very beautiful house, especially on the inside, was far less important. He as well as my mother had no desire to keep up with the Jones, or to show off. But my mother was very creative. When people did come to our house, my father was always the one to show everyone around and celebrate my mother’s creativity. Again he was happy because being creative made my mother happy.

    When it came to clothes, Dad was all clean and simple. In fact since he took the top thing off the shelf whenever he got dressed, mom always made sure that she put the newly clean clothes at the bottom or back of the shelf or Dad would wear the same thing all the time!

    I have absorbed a great deal of my mother’s love of beauty and have some of her creativity. However there is also much of my father’s simplicity that still shapes my behavior. So at this time of year I find myself looking at some of the beautiful clothes that I have, saying to myself that I have not worn them for the whole year and I am not likely to wear them next year, and that they are best used by others. (There are many places to give little used clothes now). I find so often that I have favorite clothes that I wear again and again, and I find it very sad that eventually I have to give them up because they have gone beyond the comfortable and well –worn to the thread bare look.

    P.S. As for Benedict’s taste in clothing, mom would see that as being old-fashioned and uncreative.

  3. I never really understood the desire to dress up and especially to have others dress up. What does wearing expensive clothes tell you about a person aside from the fact that they have money to burn? Taste is not wedded to cost …. simple clothes can be quite elegant. And anyway, clothes are for comfort, for protection, for telling people who you are, and for fun 🙂 Makes me think of the poem “The Dream Of Wearing Shorts Forever” by Les Murray.

    1. @crystal watson – comment #5:
      Hi Crystal,

      Dressing up is cultural. Those who have the least material resources are most often the ones who care about dressing up. Like Sunday Mass in a black church. It matters. Truly it does. It’s about dignity. It does not matter to you because you have a different culture.

      The current mainstream American bias is toward the casual. That is as much a status symbol as anything else. Athletic gear, for example, costs as much (sometimes more) than taffeta and a suit and tie, so it really is a “privilege” thing to go casual. It also proclaims that “I don’t have to do anything but be comfortable.” How very privileged is that.

      Money to burn? Not really.

      For people who have very little, wearing their best counts.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #6:
        I agree 100%.
        NOt that I don’t applaud Pope Francis his choices are really needed the Pope must not be opulent not in our day.

        But I do lament the shorts always mentality of our times also.

        A sense of occasion is a good cultural practice, and its does not take lots of money.

      2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #6:
        I agree with RIta.

        It is not about luxury. velvet, gold, etc is just in bad taste today for popes.
        full stop.

        BUt I do lament the shorts all the time theme of our day.

        A sense of occasion is also important. And it does not take a lot of money.

  4. Hi Rita,

    I see your point. In many cases, people who don’t have much strive even harder than others to fit in and put their best foot forward. I’m one of those at-the-poverty-line people who struggles with those issues. But I believe that at the end of the day, clothes aren’t what really matters about people. You know … that lilies of the field thingy 🙂

  5. I suppose, despite all the good vibes and accolades given to Pope Francis – if somebody wants to hear ‘put downs’ on him, this is the site to go. Though not all, people here sound like Christians who are on the side of the rich and famous only and value outward appearances more, which is far from being Christ-like (especially the priest).

  6. “Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about … what you will wear.”

    I know we’re supposed to hate scripture backup, but it’s hard to resist mentioning this one. I don’t think God cares what we wear, but that most people dress up for other people. The desire to impress others with one’s power through huate clothing has been a thing since emperors dyed their cloaks purple with expensive sea shells.

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