When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then Turkey’s prime minister, donned a blue plaid jacket after voting for himself in the country’s 2014 presidential election, people took notice. In Turkish politics, where starched formality and dark suits are the norm, the jacket stood out: It looked about a size too large, and its loud pattern sat awkwardly on his 6-foot frame.
Garish blue plaid jackets have since become a staple of Erdoğan’s wardrobe. He has worn them at rallies, and while criticizing U.S. policy at a convention of his ruling AK Party; earlier this year, he wore one while announcing his victory in a constitutional referendum that, according to many analysts, effectively converted his rule into a dictatorship.
As Erdoğan has consolidated power, mayors, government officials, and members of parliament have begun following not just his political lead but also his wardrobe cues. After the May 2016 resignation of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu—himself an enthusiastic convert to blue plaid jackets—one journalist predicted that the next prime minister would be “someone with a plaid jacket in his closet.” (She was right.) That summer, a newspaper referred to the jackets as “the party’s official clothing.” Since then, photographs (like the one above, tweeted by the mayor of Antalya) of Erdoğan flanked by party functionaries wearing similar jackets have gone viral. Some have been paired with captions (“One state, one nation, one jacket”) playing off a campaign slogan.