The Fashion Whip: Does Rick Perry Wear Too Much Jewelry?

Fashion Whip is a political style column in the Huffington Post by fashion stylist Lauren Rothman and HuffPost reporter Christina Wilkie inspired by Lauren’s experience at Styleauteur, the firm she founded.

WASHINGTON — Among modern presidential candidates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s jewelry is in a class by itself.

As he maneuvers through roiling Republican primary waters, the Texas governor is armed with two big chunks of gold that crowd his left ring finger, flashy cuff links on monogrammed cuffs, a bold chronograph watch and an ever present lapel pin that eschews Old Glory in favor of a more, shall we say, adolescent loyalty: the Boy Scouts.

But Perry wasn’t always like this. Prior to 2004, he wore even more jewelry than he does now, including, at times, a gold bracelet, a rubber sports bracelet and a “Wild West sheriff” pin.

So how much “bling” is too much for a would-be president? Check out the slideshow below to decide for yourself.

As a Washington-based professional stylist, and one half of the Fashion Whip, I often field questions from male clients in politics about how to express their personal style without distracting voters from their message. Most of my clients would hesitate, wisely, I believe, to wear a “good” watch to a town hall meeting.

But not Rick Perry. A proud alumnus of Texas A&M University, Perry is never without his huge gold “Aggie” ring. The one he wears today isn’t his original ring, however. He lost the first one, and replaced it this year with a “brand spanking new ring” that he shows off in this video.

Soon after Perry won a second gubernatorial term in 2006, he started wearing his Aggie ring on his left hand after decades of wearing it on his right. These days, the ring rests on top of his thick gold wedding band, and the combined baubles reach to his knuckle and overload his hand. It’s unclear what prompted the right-handed Perry to move all his rings to his left, but the shift coincided with his rise to national prominence. Perhaps he anticipated the need for a jewelry-free handshake in Iowa and New Hampshire?

Whatever the reason, Perry’s rings are only one part of a broader jewelry evolution that began around 2003, when the newly elected governor ditched his leather watch and gold “fishing-lure” bracelet in favor of a more serious, and expensive looking, steel chronograph. Around the same time, Perry discovered monogrammed, French cuffed shirts, and today he wears them religiously, paired with big gold and silver cuff-links that compete for attention with his rings. Custom-made ostrich-skin cowboy boots often complete the look.

For a self-proclaimed Texas country boy, Perry’s jewelry looks a lot like that of a powerful, wealthy big-timer.