This question was put to me on Twitter by my good friend Clive Turner, the CEO of Plymouth Community Homes. As Housing CEOs go he is fairly cool, with his navy suit, decent cufflinks and watch, and easy-going open-necked shirt. I am not sure about the rubber wrist band and lapel badge though, Clive. And clearly his office was designed by someone with an office supplies catalogue with it’s nasty blue “CEO” chair and light blue horizontal blinds.
I didn’t know the answer to Clive’s question. But when he said “Yanis!”, the penny (or rather the Euro) dropped. The man in charge of Greece’s Finances is an interesting case study. Is he cool? He thinks he is! His expression is direct, confident, strong – sexy even.
I cannot find a photograph of this 53 year old guy in a tie. Here he is at his first EU meeting as finance minister. He looks to be wearing a kind of Austrian-style black boiled wool jacket with red melton on the back collar, and some jazzy detailing on the breast pocket. Teamed with a navy damask shirt and a wry smile. All around him are men in traditional grey suits and ties. Yannis Varoufakis, with his shaved head, pink exercise book and white iPhone looks somewhat out of place. He has previously worn this jacket with jeans and a variety of shirts. He has chosen to wear this somewhat eccentric mandarin collar jacket for a number of photo opportunities, so it is obviously a favourite.
Let’s do a little analysis of what he has in his wardrobe. The first picture shows Yannis before he was famous. Loud silk shirt (no tie), thick black hair. John Travolta. The second image is from his website (spot that jacket!) wearing a slogan T shirt in another bright shade. And the third picture is Yannis in a comfy striped T giving a speech. In my opinion with his dark hair, eyes and tanned complexion he can certainly wear bright and deep colours, and he looks nice in the dark shirts that he often favours.
This is clearly a man who enjoys making a statement with his clothes choosing strong colours, rebellious T shirts, and an unconventional informal jacket. At heart he is an academic, and this is how academics dress. Influenced by spending alot of time with teenagers – youthful, casual, approachable and comfy – but very confident in his brain power and view point. Someone used to a captive audience. But he treats their eyes as well as their ears by wearing something they can talk about, or relate to.
I admit I like the man. He speaks perfect English and is very self assured with incredulous broadcasters. He is brave and a natural leader with a compelling democratic mandate. And, his clothes tell us, he is unafraid to be himself. He is not going to conform to the European Central Bank and he is not going to conform to the dress code. I think he is cool although I don’t endorse all his sartorial choices.
When he turned up at Mr Osbourne’s door we saw something we are not used to – a Euroleader in a casual brightly coloured shirt, no tie, and untucked! Albeit a little bit tight and crumpled. George on the other hand looks tidy and pulled together, slim and youthful, if rather staid and dull.
And just to finish let’s have a look at the jacket he wore that day (but managed to take off for the formal photograph above). The Independent said: “Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis rocks up in London to meet George Osbourne in an edgy jacket”.
I think it is a Barbour jacket, beloved by the upper classes and actually worn in London, over a suit by city boys on a daily basis. It is not a jacket I would describe as “edgy”. But hang on a minute. It looks very shiny, doesn’t it? Rather oily? Maybe this is what makes it look “edgy”. Barbours are not really shiny jackets, except when they are brand new! Yanis is wearing a box-fresh Barbour! How we Brits laugh – the shame of it. Do you think Yannis wanted to conform, so he bought a British upper crust jacket, not realising it had to be distressed and patched – matured for decades first?