New York politicians' iconic fashion choices

Andy King.
Andy King.
William Alatriste for the New York City Council.
Andy King.

New York politicians' iconic fashion choices

From Díaz Sr.’s cowboy hat to Stewart-Cousins’ scarves to the anti-necktie movement.
April 24, 2019

Loosen up, y’all – tieless male politicians are having a moment. Yes, silk neckwear is among the many political norms being challenged in 2019. Freshman Rep. Max Rose keeps his head free of hair and his neck free of tie. State Sens. John Liu and Phil Boyle have gone tieless in the chamber, despite Minority Leader John Flanagan’s demand that Boyle “put one (expletive) on.” And New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has rocked t-shirts under suits throughout his career.

It’s a relatively understated way to stand out from the crowd, and politicians have always been eager to build a personal brand. Back in the 1970s, the trailblazing Rep. Bella Abzug of Manhattan wore outlandish hats to differentiate herself from the predominantly female secretaries. Now Abzug has a number of sartorial disciples in New York politics, extending well beyond the un-tied few.

Rubén Díaz Sr.’s hat 

diaz-sr-nyc-council-flickr.jpg

New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr..
Alt Text: 
New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr..
Title Text: 
New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr..
Caption: 
New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr..
Description: 
New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr..
Image Credit: 
New York City Council/Flickr

The controversy-courting Bronx city councilman – now a congressional candidate – always wears a cowboy hat to honor his Puerto Rican hometown’s mascot.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ scarves

Andrea-Stewart-Cousins.jpg

Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Alt Text: 
Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Title Text: 
Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Caption: 
Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Description: 
Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Image Credit: 
Kevin Coughlin/Office of the Governor

The stately state Senate majority leader wears specially-made silk scarves for major votes – and her ever-changing neckwear was once tracked by a dedicated Twitter account.

Velmanette Montgomery's hats 

Montgomery_Velmanette_senateoffice_2019.jpg

Velmanette Montgomery.
Alt Text: 
Velmanette Montgomery.
Title Text: 
Velmanette Montgomery.
Caption: 
Velmanette Montgomery (center).
Description: 
Velmanette Montgomery.
Image Credit: 
New York Senate Office

The longest-serving Democrat in the state Senate is almost always always wearing one of her large collection of patterned, beret-like kufi hats.

Andy King’s suits (pictured above)

The Bronx city councilman seems to have blazers and bowties every color and pattern – with the bow tie, hat and Croc shoes to match.

Jumaane Williams' backpack 

jumaane-williams-visits-office-nyc-council-flickr.jpg

Public advocate-elect Jumaane Williams visits his new office for the first time.
Alt Text: 
Public advocate-elect Jumaane Williams visits his new office for the first time.
Title Text: 
Public advocate-elect Jumaane Williams visits his new office for the first time.
Caption: 
Public advocate-elect Jumaane Williams visits his new office for the first time.
Description: 
Public advocate-elect Jumaane Williams visits his new office for the first time.
Image Credit: 
New York City Council/Flickr

Always on the campaign trail and always wearing his own bag, Williams carries everything from a cologne bottle to a fidget spinner in his backpack, which has inspired its own Twitter account.

John Liu and Phil Boyle’s open necks 

phil-boyle-don-pollard.jpg

Phil Boyle.
Alt Text: 
Phil Boyle.
Title Text: 
Phil Boyle.
Caption: 
Phil Boyle.
Description: 
Phil Boyle.
Image Credit: 
Don Pollard

Despite sitting on opposite sides of the aisle, these two state senators have gone tieless during session at the Capitol. Boyle did so even after Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan’s demand to “put one (expletive) on.”

Zellnor Myrie’s sneakers 

The freshman Brooklyn state senator is too shy to wear them on weekdays, but the self-proclaimed sneaker enthusiast joined state Sen. Jamaal Bailey in wearing Jordans to a Saturday session in Albany.

Charles Barron's jacket 

Charles-Barron---Mike-Groll.jpg

Charles Barron.
Alt Text: 
Charles Barron.
Title Text: 
Charles Barron.
Caption: 
Charles Barron.
Description: 
Charles Barron.
Image Credit: 
Mike Groll

Wearing a tie isn’t an option for the radical Brooklyn assemblyman, who dons high-collared Nehru jackets to protest Western cultural norms.

David Dinkins' bowtie 

David Dinkins 3.jpg

Caption: 
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins
Image Credit: 
Andrew Kist

The former New York City mayor mostly stuck to the fashion script of long ties while in office, but is rarely seen without a bowtie in retirement.

Lynne Patton's sunglasses 

lynne_patton_Blesener.jpg

Lynne Patton.
Alt Text: 
Lynne Patton.
Title Text: 
Lynne Patton.
Caption: 
Lynne Patton.
Description: 
Lynne Patton.
Image Credit: 
Sarah Blesener

She’s not an elected official, but the HUD regional administrator has been in the news more than most politicians lately – and always with sunglasses perched on her crown. “There’s no rhyme or reason behind it,” she insists.

Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
Topic Tags: 
20190915