Do we all want to unleash our outer Traficant?
By STEPHEN SIFF
and PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Jim Traficant went down, but at least he went down in style.
1970s style, that is.
"Deep down, you know you want to wear wide bottoms," Traficant told congressional colleagues during his expulsion hearing Wednesday, referring to trousers that blossomed over his shoes. "You are just not secure enough to do it."
Is it true that we all secretly yearn to wear wide-bottomed pants, like Traficant says, and aren't bold enough to do so? To have hair that impetuously towers above one's crown, jackets that scream personality, and two-finger-wide ties?
"No," said Noel Palomo-Lovinski, an associate professor in Kent State University's school of Fashion and Merchandising. "As you get older, you get more and more concerned that you don't want to look like an idiot."
A salesperson at Maxsons, a fashionable men's store in Niles, said they have yet to receive a request for the Jim Traficant look. Nicholas Rosile, owner of The Men's Shop in Cortland, said he carries only two thin ties as part of his "vintage samples" collection.
"Bell bottoms were ugly in 1973, and they are still ugly," said Ron Book of Howland, who spent nearly two decades as a fashion model in London, New York and Paris. "If you are a teenage girl with a 29-inch waist, you can wear bell bottoms and get away with it, but when you are a sloppy, fat 61-year-old man, it is pretty sad."
Even Traficant's greatest ally in the expulsion debate, U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican, noted his unusual dress during an impassioned plea to delay a vote on kicking his friend out. LaTourette questioned if Traficant really received the $40,000 in bribes and kickbacks he was convicted of taking.
"We know he didn't spend $40,000 at Brooks Bros.," LaTourette said.
The House laughed.
"I thought Traficant never looked better," said Maridee Costanzo, a Warren attorney who also ran for Congress. "We all need a little flair."
Traficant's clothes from the wild, outrageous 1970s may serve another purpose among the suits in D.C., Palomo-Lovinski said.
"The gentleman may try to make an impression in showing this kind of outmoded appearance," said Palomo-Lovinski. "An anti-establishment, disrespectful, power-to-the-people kind of thing."
A matter of taste
But does it look good?
"Everyone is going to be dressing that way when the new Austin Powers movie opens," said Ralph Magliocca, owner of Dunkin' Donuts on Youngstown-Niles Road.
"In public, I think he should dress a little better," said Connie Ryan, a 76-year-old great-grandmother from Niles who supports the congressman and sports a similar hairstyle.
"His is sort of frosted and mine is all white," said Ryan, who recalls being kissed by Traficant at an event at Warren G. Harding High School a few years ago.
It should also be noted that Ryan's hair is carefully arranged, but Traficant joked to his colleagues Wednesday that his was trimmed by a weed whacker.
"It just isn't nice," said Joey Francis, a hairstylist in Niles. "He should have just gone bald."
A fashion leader?
Traficant may actually be ahead of his time, said Bruce Corey, manager of the men's department at Dillard's in Eastwood Mall.
"I'm told that thin ties may make a comeback this fall," Corey said. "We haven't had anyone asking for them, but they are supposed to be coming back."