Project Runway Meets the Campaign Trail: The Brown Jacket

March 18, 2010 · 12:05 PM EDT

In a toxic climate, candidates are shedding the politician label and donning a critical wardrobe item to weather the electoral storm: the brown barn jacket. Candidates are running to demonstrate their political independence by following this year’s hottest campaign trend in an effort to relate to the common folk.

Over the last few years, the barn jacket has struggled at the ballot box. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry’s wardrobe choice was widely panned as he donned the jacket for a hunting photo opportunity.

In 2008, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin wore the female version, but it wasn’t enough to make independent voters warm up to the GOP ticket.

But after this year’s Senate special election in Massachusetts, the barn jacket is back and candidates are merging the runway with the campaign trail in their television ads.

Republican Scott Brown’s stunning victory breathed new life into the fashion statement. His spokesman even suggested that the jacket hang in the Smithsonian.

Now, we’re seeing the jacket pop up all across the country. Republican Buz Mills is running for governor in Arizona and putting his trust in the jacket.

The fashion trend knows no partisan boundaries. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D), who is looking at competitive primary and general elections this year, just went on television with his first ad, and of course he’s wearing the jacket.

For multi-million dollar campaigns, an $85 investment in a Men’s Sandstone Chore Coat by Carhartt may be the best investment a candidate will ever make.

But as the weather warms up, campaigns may be missing their opportunity to relate to regular people. We’re either going to see some incredibly hot and sweaty candidates or they’re going to have to find a new fashion statement.