Newyork

Inside the Mayor’s Closet

When Mayor Eric Adams emerges from his official limousine, so too does a glimpse of poplin, chambray and gabardine: some of the New York City mayor’s collection of crisp shirts, tailored suits and custom neckties often travels with him, swinging from a rack in the back seat of his black Chevrolet Suburban.

Yet just what his closet contains has gone largely unexamined, even as critics have questioned how he maintains a collection of bespoke suits on a mayor’s salary, or grumbled that in dressing up, Mr. Adams plays celebrity, not civil servant.

“Seven times a day he changes his clothes,” the humorist Fran Lebowitz said on a podcast with Bill Maher. “He has his clothes made! The mayor doesn’t make enough money to buy those clothes. He’s been in public service his whole life, he shouldn’t be able to buy those clothes.”

But is this focus on Mr. Adams’s appearance just a gossipy pile-on? Is speculation about the source of his stylish wardrobe simply a rumor born out of terrible poll numbers and involvement in a federal probe about his campaign’s fund-raising? Or is it, as the mayor himself has suggested, nothing more than a racially coded attack? Either way, there is only so much one can learn from a mayor who has resisted any suggestion of transparency around things like who exactly pays for meals at his favorite nighttime haunts.

The mayor showed off his style at different events in the city. From left: At the opening of the restaurant Caviar Kaspia at The Mark Hotel in February at the start of last year’s New York Fashion Week; at last year’s U.S. Open; attending his first Met Gala in 2022 wearing a jacket by the Nigerian designer Laolu Senbanjo.Credit…Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times, Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times, Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for The New York Times

Supporters say the mayor embodies a stylish city stepping out of its pandemic sweatpants, a sartorial beacon embodying what he likes to call New York “swagger.” A New York Daily News editorial praised the mayor’s fashion sense as good for the recovering city: “We finally have a leader who dresses the way the city is starting to feel.”

But exactly what does he wear? Over the course of a 30-day period, The New York Times analyzed images of Mr. Adams from his official public photography account. To understand the breadth of the mayoral closet, we logged every tie, shirt, jacket and suit, and with the help of men’s wear experts, organized them by variety, occasion and style. This admittedly unscientific survey relied on the mayoral photo feed from Nov. 5 to Dec. 5 of 2023, which presented the mayor in a kaleidoscope of looks as he attended more than two dozen public events.

(Note: Mr. Adams’s evening excursions, to favorites of his like Osteria La Baia, an Italian restaurant in Midtown, and Zero Bond, a private member’s club in NoHo, are not included in the official photo archive.)

Mayor Adams speaks at his election party at Zero Bond.Credit…Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images For Haute Living
At a news conference in November.Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

During the period of observation, Mr. Adams wore 19 different ties and no less than 10 different suits or suit jackets; on at least four days, Mr. Adams wore a minimum of two different outfits. His favorite look, by frequency, appears to be a navy blue sport coat with white stripes of alternating thickness, which he wore 20 percent of the time. He favors crisp white shirts, worn 70 percent of the time, with light blue numbers interspersed. Not once during the month of observation did he appear to wear the same necktie twice.

Almost since the mayor’s arrival at Gracie Mansion — he wore a navy suit and blue shirt with a contrasting white collar the day he was sworn in — speculation emerged on just how big a dent his wardrobe makes in his $258,000 salary. On the lowest end, a custom suit can be made for just under a thousand dollars. But a three-piece formal suit could easily cost $5,000, and rumors of the mayor’s relationship with a Turkish tailor — at a time when his campaign is the target of an F.B.I. probe into whether it conspired with the government of Turkey to illegally accept foreign contributions — have invited questions.

At a show during New York Fashion Week last February.Credit…Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Img

But to one expert, the analysis, limited as it may be, painted a more sober picture. “His wardrobe, while impressive, is not unusually large for a 63-year-old public figure who obviously likes clothes,” said Eric Musgrave, the author of “Sharp Suits: A Celebration of Men’s Tailoring.”

Mr. Musgrave was one of several fashion authorities who examined Mr. Adams’s work attire over the 30-day period at The Times’s request. Mr. Musgrave — who himself said he has 125 ties and 85 pocket squares — noted the mayor’s penchant for a classic single-breasted style, as well as the occasional double-breasted jacket with a peaked lapel.

But tiny details — like the mayor’s habit of securing a pin collar with minuscule studs with painstaking screw-on backs (as he did on Nov. 20, 28 and Dec. 5) — sent a different message to Alan Flusser, the author of “Dressing the Man.” “This is a man who is obsessed with clothes,” Mr. Flusser said. “If the mayor paid attention to the details of running the city as he does to the details of his dress, the city would be in better shape.”

Mayor Adams at work: On the steps of City Hall talking about a mental health initiative last March; at the 2nd annual Moonlight Gala New York, where he delivered remarks; in Washington speaking with reporters following meetings with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries last month.Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times, Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office, Al Drago for The New York Times

In past interviews, the mayor has claimed to be a Men’s Warehouse and Century 21 shopper; as Brooklyn borough president, a less-svelte Mr. Adams favored boxy, off-the-rack silhouettes, his fashion sense appearing to amplify on the campaign trail, culminating with a new ear piercing to commemorate his first day in office.

“Mayor Adams always dresses for the event or the circumstances: whether that means wearing a polo shirt, a suit, a windbreaker, or another piece of clothing that fits the occasion,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the mayor, said in an email. “Mayor Adams grew up and remains true to his blue-collar roots no matter the color of the collar on his shirt tomorrow.”

Other mayors have been fashion plates, from the dandy style of 1920s Jimmy Walker to the restrained bow ties of David Dinkins. In past interviews, Mr. Adams has pushed back against scrutiny of his sartorial taste as racially motivated, citing similar criticism of Mr. Dinkins’s style at the time.

Drawn more broadly from photos of the mayor during the course of his administration, The Times identified at least 24 different suits or suit jackets in his collection. They range from a floral number available at Walmart to a custom three-piece suit from a Manhattan-based brand called BMC. (Brandon Murphy, the designer, declined to say its price, or whether the mayor had paid, citing customer privacy.) Most of these suits he accessorizes with pocket squares in shades of white and blue or a pop of mauve and a bracelet of dark stones from Asia and Africa he has described in interviews as a gift from supporters.

Mr. Levy, the mayor’s spokesman, declined to provide the number of suits, jackets, ties and pocket squares in the mayor’s collection. He noted that since adopting a vegetarian diet, Mr. Adams has lost considerable weight, requiring new clothes. Along with a handful of custom pieces, the mayor wears suits from DKNY, Cole Haan, John Varvatos and Suit Supply, tweaked by tailors to fit his physique.

Michael Mohan, the proprietor of Mohan’s Custom Tailors, has made three of the mayor’s suits, he said, fully custom numbers that cost far less than the average bespoke suit, at $1,100 apiece. On a recent afternoon in his third-story shop on Madison Avenue, Mr. Mohan measured a former mail carrier for a suit, surrounded by photographs of celebrated customers including past mayors.

On one wall hung a pegboard of 21 different shirt collars. Mr. Adams, the tailor said, went with styles No. 4 and No. 12 for the three custom white shirts he ordered, which cost around $150 each. Mr. Mohan identified one of his suits worn by the mayor during the 30-day period of observation. Others were not his handiwork. “That couldn’t be mine,” he said, indicating a less-than-crisp navy suit jacket. “It has too many wrinkles.”

Showing off the back of his custom-made Met Gala jacket.Credit…Nina Westervelt for The New York Times
In a bright red jacket at a party celebrating New York Fashion Week at Gracie Mansion.Credit…Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

A number of Mr. Adams’s suits are off the rack, Mr. Musgraves, the men’s wear expert, said. The telltale sign, he said, was the absence of “a close fit round the back of the neck and a smooth line on the shoulders.”

Some custom pieces worn by the mayor are by Taji Gentlemen’s Clothier, a Madison Avenue shop run by Tacettin Seker, who learned his craft in his native Turkey. Mr. Seker declined to speak specifically about his client but said sport coats cost about $2,800 and a suit starts around $3,500. Mr. Seker can take up to 30 measurements for a custom suit, he said, and he sources his materials via annual trips to Milan. Mr. Seker offers customers guidance, but he said that any details — like a colorful silk lining, or the contrast buttonhole stitching that appears on some of Mr. Adam’s suits — are the mayor’s own taste.

“Mayor Adams always dresses for the event or the circumstances,” Mr. Levy, the mayor’s spokesman, said in an email. “The point,” he added, “is to send a message.”

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