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Politicians and snow wear: rugged, not rumpled

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As CEO of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, Jarrett Barrios’s job description doesn’t include “style consultant.” But as someone who regularly accompanies elected officials on blizzard or disaster tours, he sees a lot of what could be termed “press conference outerwear.”

“If it’s 20 degrees below zero, you want to see someone in a winter jacket, not a fancy wool coat,” said Barrios, a former politician himself. “If it’s raining, you want someone in a raincoat, not holding an umbrella. You’re trying to communicate that you are pragmatic, effective, and in control of the situation.”

For some officials, like Governor Deval Patrick, that fashion dictate means that when it snows, it’s time to zip on a trim-fitting black fleece vest with the logo of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. It’s a look that has become so associated with disaster that a picture of Patrick in the vest could be texted out as an alert to let citizens know they should brace for something.

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