Eliot Spitzer Gets ‘Fly’ Makeover During Shopping Stop in Harlem

Taking a page from the Anthony Weiner shopping-with-the-press playbook, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer took reporters on a tour through West

"I love globes!" Eliot Spitzer said at one shop.
“I love globes!” Eliot Spitzer said at one shop.

Taking a page from the Anthony Weiner shopping-with-the-press playbook, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer took reporters on a tour through West Harlem this afternoon–following a roundtable discussion with minority business leaders–and got some fashion advice along the way,

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After picking up an iced coffee at the newly-opened Harlem Shake (“Why’s ice coffee more expensive than regular coffee? You get less coffee, you pay more, I’ve never understood it,” he mused), Mr. Spitzer popped into Harlem Haberdashery, a funky–and expensive, he’d later learn–clothing boutique popular with professional athletes and local pols, including mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Almost immediately, Mr. Spitzer made a beeline to an antique globe sitting near the cash register, picking it up like a basketball. “This is cool, man. Globes are cool!” he exclaimed.

But shop owner Louis Johnson, who said the store had originally opened to cater to larger men because “Rochester Big and Tall is not the place to get fly,” quickly zeroed in on Mr. Spitzer’s famous navy pinstriped suit, plain white dress shirt and basic blue tie.

“I buy one suit every six months and that’s it, they’re all the same,” bragged Mr. Spitzer, who some have joked even wears his signature suit when he jogs.

“As long as you flip it with a different accessory and a different shirt and you know, a pocket square,” Mr. Johnson responded, encouragingly.

“I wear the same shirt, the same tie, the same suit,” confessed Mr. Spitzer. “It makes it easy in the morning!” he said. Sensing Mr. Johnson’s disapproval with his answer, Mr. Spitzer offered to return to the store for some help, but expressed skepticism at the idea of decorating his suit pocket. “I don’t know, I have my glasses in here now.”

“See, that’s for pocket squares,” Mr. Johnson kindly explained.

“Am I supposed to buy that when I buy the tie?” Mr. Spitzer asked.

Noooo!” Mr. Johnson admonished, shaking his head. “No matching, no matching.”

“I thought they had to go?”offered Mr. Spitzer.

Eliot Spitzer admires pocket squares.
Eliot Spitzer admires pocket squares.

“No, we create stories,” explained Mr. Johnson, who then led Mr. Spitzer over to a showcase of designer, two-sided pocket squares, displayed above fancy patterned socks. The former governor soon found himself modeling variously colored squares.

“What do you think?” he asked the small  group of reporters and staffers crowded around him after Mr. Johnson demonstrated his technique, folding one of the squares into a neat little rose and placing it in Mr. Spitzer’s pocket, drawing laughs.

“The guys who are working with me here, they’re in hysterics. Is this not my look? Hari, this is not my look?” Mr. Spitzer queried his spokesman, Hari Sevugan. Mr. Sevugan assured him the look was “very comptroller.”

Still, he seemed hesitant about his purchase. “Now if I don’t wear it ’til September 10th, blame these guys,” he said, gesturing to his staff. “My sartorial decisions have been outsourced!”

Standing awkwardly as Mr. Johnson fiddled with his payment system, Mr. Spitzer noted that he rarely shops–especially with press in tow. “This is a unique experience,” he said, eventually deciding to move on to the next stop, leaving a staffer behind with $100 and a credit card just in case. “And I expect some change!” he proclaimed as he left, not knowing the squares would cost him $80 each.

But across the street, at Boulevard Bistro, Mr. Spitzer was assure by local resident Ken Roberson, that he looked “sharp” as is.

“Now I look sharp. But I can be sharper,” Mr. Spitzer replied. “There’s sharp, sharper, sharpest!”

Eliot Spitzer vistiting Harlem today.
Eliot Spitzer visiting Harlem today.

Aside from the clothing commentary, the response to Mr. Spitzer, who is leading in the polls, especially among black voters, was overwhelmingly positive as he strolled down the street.

“Spitzer, you got my vote!” shouted Donald Fitzpatrick, 58, who later told Politicker that Mr. Spitzer is “the best money man. He has no fear about Wall Street. He has no fear about people who don’t like him. He’s the best.”

“Can I shake your hand?” asked one little kid, who ran up to Mr. Spitzer through a reporter scrum.

“Nobody’s perfect!” declared another man,referencing the infamous prostitution scandal that felled Mr. Spitzer’s political career five years ago. “You’re good, man.”

The visit came after a roundtable breakfast discussion at Sylvia’s Also restaurant, where Mr. Spitzer, who is heavily courting the black community, listened to minority business leaders from the across the city discuss their concerns, including skyrocketing restaurant inspection fines and the difficulty of competing for contracts with the “big guys.”

Harlem Business Alliance Executive Director Regina Smith said she was impressed that Mr. Spitzer seemed “genuinely concerned” about the issues facing the community, but said she remained undecided about whether she’d vote for Mr. Spitzer or his opponent, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

“I’m giving it tremendous thought and consideration,” she said.

Eliot Spitzer Gets ‘Fly’ Makeover During Shopping Stop in Harlem