President George H.W. Bush, 94, died in Texas on Nov. 30 — less than eight months after the death of Barbara, his wife of 73 years. And on Thursday, as he is carried to his final resting place at the Texas A&M University campus, he’ll give one last shout-out to the military and his years of service. It will come in the form of fashion — the pair of statement socks he is wearing, according to spokesperson Jim McGrath.
The 41st President will be carried to his final rest wearing socks that pay tribute to his lifetime of service, starting as an 18 year-old naval aviator in war. That legacy is now being carried, in part, by the brave, selfless men and women aboard @CVN77_GHWB. #Remembering41 pic.twitter.com/OabtK756fO
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 3, 2018
The sock choice made sense, because while Bush’s politics were defined by measured, moderate conservatism, his style, at least in his later years, was indicative of the spark he possessed, and for which he was so admired by his peers.
In a political career spanning three decades, Bush served as an ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, vice president for two terms under Ronald Reagan, and the 41st president of the United States. Bush was also distinguished for his military service during World War II, becoming the youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy at the time. Bush is survived by his 5 children, Neil, Jeb, Marvin, Dorothy, and former President George W. Bush; 2 siblings; 17 grandchildren; and 8 great-grandchildren.
The 41st president became known for wearing statement socks in his later years. According to Beth Dincuff Charleston, a fashion historian and professor at Parsons School of Design, they demonstrated “a bit of dandyism, reminiscent of a tradition in men’s fashion that emerged in the 19th century of accessories being the only acceptable place for color and personality in a ‘serious’ man’s wardrobe.”
That is, Bush’s bold, colorful, frequently patterned sock choices showed that, despite an attention to traditional norms and values, the late president sought to add a dash of his own personality and joy into even the most staid of occasions.
Bush’s “preference for colorful socks later in life probably originates from the same place that brought forth his predilection for madras blazers in the 1970s and colorful dinner jackets in the 1980s: his preppy core,” Dincuff Charleston tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The potency of the preppy look relies on a social nonchalance that allows the wearer to dress down in audacious socks with his own image on them, or wear shocking pink trousers embroidered with spouting whales or snapping lobsters,” she adds.
And though the hallmarks of preppy style have since been appropriated and reimagined by hipsters and fashion insiders, Bush’s look was decidedly lacking in any irony. Rather, he presented himself as himself: someone who came from an elite background and who possessed enough confidence, intelligence and charm to let his wardrobe speak for itself — serious when it needed to be, and with a bit of a winking eye (one that emerged more and more as he moved further away from his White House years) waiting to emerge, soften and laugh when needed.
The late president dressed as he will be remembered: classic, traditional, warm, tasteful, gracious, and secure enough in his background, accomplishments, and identity to let his sense of humor show.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Former first daughter Barbara Bush gets married in Maine after 5-week engagement
- Jenna Bush Hager shares cartoon of President George H.W. Bush reuniting with wife and daughter in heaven
- A Parkland dad shared George H.W. Bush’s letter of resignation from the NRA: ‘He served with honor and decency’