Charlie Baker’s Impending Fashion Faux-Pas

During his first blizzard in office, Gov. Charlie Baker will reportedly forego the MEMA vest that Gov. Deval Patrick made so iconic. Gasp!

Associated Press

Not that vest / Associated Press

Rare is the day that a middle aged white dude gets ridiculed for not wearing a fleece vest. But such is the plight of Charlie Baker in the hours leading up to his first big blizzard as governor. Baker, it seems, is on the brink of committing a major winter fashion faux-pas, perhaps even a political gaffe, in deciding to forego the MEMA vest that Gov. Deval Patrick made so iconic in times of struggle.


Patrick’s black vest, emblazoned with the initials of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, became famous during eight years of press conferences given from the MEMA bunker in Framingham. From the start, the vest received glowing press coverage. “Governor Deval Patrick is working to make disaster fashion his personal trademark,” the Globe wrote in 2011. Over time, it became an in-state inside joke, a constant for us to look forward to during big storms. Finally, it became, to some anyway, a symbol of his tenure—he was hands on, relatable, his torso always warm, his arms occasionally cold. At the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, Martha Coakley joked that if she were elected, she would lead Massachusetts through crises wearing a pink SHEMA vest.

But Coakley wasn’t elected. Baker was. And anticipation for the vest came out with anticipation for the blizzard:




Then the answer came: Nope. No vest. The Herald’s Hilary Chabot reported the bad news. Sources “close to Baker” told her that he wouldn’t be wearing the vest. She quoted an expert or two on the potential fallout:

Thomas Whalen, a political history professor at Boston University. “Patrick really knew how to wear that vest, he projected authority and urged everyone to be calm, and Baker needs to take a page from that book.”

The news hit Twitter hard.

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But maybe Baker is just trying to step out from the long shadow cast by his fashion-forward predecessor, to make his own mark on the sartorial world of gubernatorial disaster-wear. He doesn’t want to end up losing a “Who wore it best?” poll in US Weekly, after all. It remains to be seen what he will wear to the bunker. But whatever it is, he should know that an audience who tunes in expecting a vest will be watching very, very closely.