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Potential New Top Diplomat: A Clothes Horse

Even if he was colossally wrong about the stock market, here's one thing James K. "Jim" Glassman can predict with certainty: If he wins Senate confirmation to become undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, he'll improve the sartorial quotient at the State Department by at least 300 percent.

Glassman, a former Washington Post columnist and publisher of several news magazines and other publications, is, without question, one of the best dressed men in Washington. Despite its schloky reputation, the capital city does harbor some serious fashionistas. Glassman is at the top of the heap -- an A1, above-the fold clothes horse who has a penchant for fine Italian fabric.

If the Senate gives him the job, Glassman, who would replace Bush confidant Karen Hughes, will at least be dressed to impress as he goes about trying to bolster the reputation of America throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. (Let's just hope he doesn't break the cardinal rule of employment and beat the boss at her own game; Glassman would clearly give Secretary Condoleezza Rice a run for money in the fashion plate department!)

Glassman is such a fan of Neapolitan fashion that as editor-in-chief of American magazine, a publication of the American Enterprise Institute, he ordered up a story about a year ago on Naples, the hub of haute men's fashion. The author of the piece was AEI fellow and veteran neoconservative Michael Ledeen, who, coincidentally, was seen lunching with Glassman at Morton's steakhouse last week -- perhaps imparting his vision for regime change in Iran or other helpful tips for the would-be diplomat.

Ledeen tells us he wouldn't dream of giving Glassman advice. But he did offer some insight into Glassman's choice of Italian suit. "As I recall, he likes Brioni," Ledeen says.

Hey, James Bond wears Brioni. So why not the undersecretary of state?

Glassman must also have a soft spot for Kiton, whose suits go for upwards of $5,000. "He did commission that piece" after all, Ledeen says of the article he wrote, entitled "The Devil Wears Kiton."

Glassman wouldn't comment in advance of his Senate confirmation hearing slated for next week. But let's just hope for his sake that he does a better job of improving the United States' image abroad than he did at predicting the stock market. Glassman's 1999 book "Dow 36,000," which predicted the "undervalued" market could triple and perhaps quadruple, kind of, um, missed the mark.

For the record: the Dow was well below 12,000 points when we posted this.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  January 22, 2008; 6:36 PM ET
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