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Voices: Answer the big one, prime minister: Why are your trousers so short?

Voices: Answer the big one, prime minister: Why are your trousers so short?

I’ve never been much of a fashion guy. I’ve been pretty open in the past about how, due to my remote working situation, I spend 90 per cent of my time wrapped in a dressing gown, and will only get dressed if met by extreme coercion or force.

But even I know that the way a person dresses in public can have a huge impact on how seriously people take them – and that goes doubly so for politicians. They made Jeremy Corbyn go and live in the woods instead of Downing Street because he wouldn’t wear a tie, and Boris Johnson probably would have survived Partygate if he’d run a comb through his hair once in a while. The politics of power are a shallow and superficial business.

Which begs the question: why doesn’t Rishi Sunak wear trousers that fit him? He’s basically normal otherwise – why does he dress like Tom Hanks in Big?

It seems like I’m not the only one curious about the prime minister’s dress sense (or lack thereof) as he found out to his chagrin in an interview with The Sun’s political editor Harry Cole. In among all the hard-hitting questions about why he hasn’t called an election yet (he’s too busy) and his thoughts on Wetherspoon pubs (he likes their breakfast), Sunak was quizzed on the length of his cuffs.

“Well, I don’t think they are that short…” he responded. Pushed for a more conclusive answer, he added: “I tend not to like lots of baggy, baggy stuff at the bottom of my ankle.”

I feel like the issue of having “baggy, baggy stuff” around one’s ankle would also be remedied by buying trousers that fit, but what do I know? We’ve established that I’m not an expert on men’s fashion. Somebody who is an expert on men’s fashion, though, is men’s fashion expert Derek Guy, whose Twitter/X account frequently goes viral for pointing out the style faux pas of the rich and powerful, including the PM.

He writes: “It’s baffling to me how the wealthiest UK prime minister in history could live just steps away from Savile Row, the single greatest concentration of skilled bespoke tailors, and end up paying $2k for a MTM suit with sleeves and trousers 2-4 inches too short.”

My pet theory is that Sunak, one of the more diminutive world leaders, at a reported 5ft 5in, purposefully shortens the length of his suits to try to appear taller. It’s kind of like how, on Seinfeld, they made Jason Alexander dress in clothes that were a size too tight, to give the impression that he was always uncomfortable and on edge, while Michael Richards’ Kramer would usually wear baggy clothes to give the impression that he was cool and laidback.

While I would love to believe that our government was capable of engaging in that level of environmental storytelling, Guy disagrees, calling the idea “pseudoscience”, and pointing out that the best thing short men can do is wear well-tailored clothes that don’t draw attention to their height at all. However, I would say that this is the same party whose leaders were advised to adopt a ludicrous “power stance” in the mid-2010s to project the illusion of strength, so let’s not rule out pseudoscience just yet.

Maybe he’s just really proud of his socks, and wants an excuse to show them off? Honestly, if that was a core part of his branding, I’d be more inclined to vote for him. Sure, being the “fun socks” prime minister isn’t quite as good as being the “good at the economy” prime minister, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

What we can say for sure is that, now that he’s been called out on it multiple times, Sunak is locked in on the tiny suit game. He can’t start dressing normally now, any more than he can back down on his party’s terrible policies – after all, the only thing worse than looking stupid is looking stupid and weak, and there’s nothing weaker than correcting a mistake once it’s been pointed out to you.

To be fair to Sunak, he probably doesn’t have much time to think about petty things like the way he dresses. After all, he has an election to lose this year. It isn’t all bad though – once he’s stopped being prime minister, he’ll have all the time in the world to have a long, serious talk with his tailor.