- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quite a lot comes between George Will and his Calvins, it seems. The conservative commentator owns only one pair of jeans, he admitted in a column last week decrying America’s love affair with the sturdy sartorial staple.

When worn by adult postindustrial Americans, it turns out denim signifies pseudo-egalitarianism, infantile regression, reverse snobbery and an inauthentic longing for a departed agrarian golden age.

Who knew?

“Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling - thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism - of believing that appearance matters,” the sometimes supercilious pundit hissed. “That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste. Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances.”

Mr. Will, his column revealed, has worn jeans just once - in conformity with a strict dress code - to a 70th birthday party for former Sen. John C. Danforth where Texas troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker performed the honky-tonk anthem “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.”

We wish we could tell you that Mr. Will himself dresses like a mortician or a savings-and-loan officer, but the truth is he wears clothes rather well - his own style of dress runs to the professorially chic.

We have a hunch that if Mr. Will only knew how good he could look in denim, he might just reconsider his aversion. With that in mind, we asked design students at the School of Fashion at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco - birthplace, may we remind you, of Levi Strauss & Co. - to put together some sketches of Mr. Will in various denim looks.

See for yourself, and vote on your favorite George-in-Jeans look. We will announce your choice - and with any luck, Mr. Will’s own - in a future column.

Fashionista to recessionista

On the subject of fashion, if there’s one person who’s around stylish people all the time, it’s celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson.

Known for charging the most in the world ($950) for a haircut, Mr. Gibson coifs the tresses of Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway and Debra Messing, to name a few.

Operating out of salons in New York and Los Angeles, Mr. Gibson recently added a Washington studio to his empire to be closer to his illustrious clientele making more trips to the newly “New York chic” Washington.

“A lot of celebrities are coming to Washington these days for specific events,” Mr. Gibson explained, referring to his new location on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase.

The salon opened in January, and Mr. Gibson tells G2 he is looking forward to being in town for its official launch on May 8.

He picked a convenient weekend. That’s the day before the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, an event famous for its head-swiveling, strange-bedfellows star power.

The one woman Mr. Gibson would most like to style is right here in town - first lady Michelle Obama. His advice to her stylist? More bangs, like the ones she sported recently in Europe.

“I think of them as Botox bangs,” he says. “They are great for women of a certain age, and they accentuate the eyes.”

For those whose $950 is more likely to go toward a mortgage payment than a new ‘do, Mr. Gibson invites you to “recessionista Wednesdays” at his salon. There, beginning this week, customers can receive a haircut, color processing or blowout for less than $100 from one of his associates.

Mr. Gibson says he felt compelled to lower his fees after so many of his clients said they “had a lost a job or were in dire straits.”

Of course, if you really want to save some cash, you can cut and style your hair at home in your own self-made Gibson studio. Mr. Gibson’s styling products and curling irons are available for purchase at Target stores.

Sooner crooner warns of political divide

“My lefty friends think I’m a Nazi, and my righty friends think I’m a hippie,” said country music star Toby Keith Tuesday at the National Press Club, where he stopped to speak at a luncheon on his way to Afghanistan for his eighth USO tour to entertain U.S. troops.

Although he comes from a long line of Democrats and considers himself a “conservative Democrat,” Mr. Keith, who has sold over 25 million albums, told the press club audience that he’s never been a “political guy.”

Political or not, ever since the 2002 release of the chest-thumpingly nationalistic post-9/11 anthem “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue,” the Oklahoma native has become a “lightning rod of patriotism,” he acknowledged.

The Sooner crooner laments what he sees as a plague of political division infecting the nation. “The polarization that happens in this country is boiling to the point to where I feel like, living in middle America, it’s beginning to feel like a civil war,” he said.

“There’s so much hate on both ends that it’s hard to get anything accomplished in this country.”

“There are great Democrats and great Republicans and great independents that all get along and can argue and disagree and agree over issues, but those extreme ends seem to create all the noise and they’re poison,” he observed.

“With the Internet the way it is today,” he continued, “with everybody … trying to compete for the headlines, trying to sell the headlines … it’s pushing us to where there’s so much hate on both sides that there’s no way we can continue to get along. If it continues like it does,” the alarmed singer warned, “there will people who die in this country over their political beliefs,” he said.

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover with a tip or to request event coverage, please e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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