The recent death of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet brought to mind something I had occasionally wondered about. I’m referring to the connection between many despots and really gaudy uniforms.
Yes, I know that these men like to constantly remind their citizens just who is in charge and of course they want to look as imposing as possible while doing so, but come on! Look at that uniform…if hell has a doorman, I’m sure he’s dressed just like that, and what is with the sash? Other that beauty pageant contestants what sane person wears a sash? Oh, that’s right…we’re talking about dictators here and sanity never was their strongest point.
Anyway, despite his valiant effort at sartorial pomposity Pinochet can’t hold a candle to the man that I think is the most absurdly dressed dictator of our time (although Idi Amin did give him a run for his money) Muammar al-Gaddafi, the leader of Libya.
Just take a moment to let the full impact of that uniform take hold. Hey look, there’s another sash and I’m positive that at least one of those two circular items pinned to it is a sprocket from a ten-speed bicycle. Not to mention, that scattered among the six pounds of unearned military medals he’s wearing there are at least three women’s brooches.
I’m guessing that they ran out of medals to “honor” Gaddafi with years ago, so now his underlings just run out to the nearest flea market to see what’s available. His heavily embroidered collar looks stiff enough to cut his throat…sadly it has yet to do so. Overall, I think if the “Good Humor” man had ever taken over a country this is how he would have looked.
I suppose the most glaring exception to this trend among dictators is of course Fidel Castro, with his simple, if somewhat drab style of dress. My personal theory is that the money other dictators would have spent on clothing, Fidel spent on cigars and special shampoos for his beard…viva la revolución!