The General's (Presidential?) New Clothes

If clothes make the man, do they also make the candidate? Does a visit by Colin Powell to Bill Clinton's New York tailor portend a candidacy?

The questions are aroused by the discovery that General Powell has rejuvenated his wardrobe in a big way, as chronicled by writer Sallie Motsch in the December issue of Washingtonian magazine.

Ms. Motsch wrote that on the day Powell retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he made an appointment with Martin Greenfield, who made suits for Clinton in 1993. And, she said, Powell recently returned to the tailor for some more.

Of course anyone ending an Army career of more than three decades might feel the need for a new civilian wardrobe, even if it were only for the book-signing and lecture circuit. But Mr. Greenfield said Powell had outfitted himself in ''a wardrobe fit for a president. I can guarantee you he can easily be president and wear these suits.''

The tailor said Powell bought mostly double-breasted suits in navy and pin stripes, but some single-breasted. He chose pants with pleats, cuffs, and suspender buttons. ''He likes nice suspenders,'' Greenfield said. He goes in for classic patterns in ties, and ties them in a tight half-Windsor. ''We showed him how,'' Greenfield said.

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