De Blasio’s Snow-Day Symbolism Draws Sharp Contrast With Bloomberg

We're not on East 79th Street anymore.

It's a mayoral rite of passage — not just the first snowstorm, but dressing for it. Like watching a ball game in a T-shirt or doing a shot with the union guys in blue jeans, braving the elements during a weather event is the perfect photo op for a politician hoping to telegraph an aura and an attitude. Bill de Blasio cruised into City Hall as the anti-Bloomberg Brooklynite everyman, and he's hoping not to lose that cred now that he's in office.

Last night's snow — not quite enough of a blizzard to paralyze the city — was the perfect opportunity for some posturing: Beforehand, De Blasio toured the bureaucratic behind-the-scenes (all business), and in the morning, he hit the sidewalk outside his home to shovel snow (down-to-earth). As with his predecessors and contemporaries, the outfits said it all.

In an attempt to prove he was taking preparations seriously, De Blasio wore his signature suit while doing a nice job of “feigning interest” with some snowplows. (It wasn't his first picture next to a plow: Earlier on Thursday, before sunrise, the mayor stepped out in his favorite Brooklyn hoodie to make some serious-looking calls.)

Avoiding a repeat of Mayor Bloomberg's missing-in-action Bermuda getaway during the 2010 blizzard was obviously first priority, even though De Blasio has neither a tropical vacation house nor the jet to get there. On Friday morning, as seen up top, De Blasio went back to the regular-guy look to shovel some snow: jeans and a black jacket — nothing flashy, just simple and classy.

And at an official press conference this afternoon, he looked active and practical in a “Mayor’s Office” blue windbreaker and what can only be described as dad jeans:

Asked about his selections, the day-three mayor offered sassily to show off his layers:

In all, De Blasio's carefully studied clothes played directly against his foil, Bloomberg, who favored colorful rich-guy sweaters and staying inside. “I do remember as a kid hoping for lots of snow,” said Bloomberg during his first storm in charge. “Now as the mayor, I don’t.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, foreground, briefs the media about the pending snow storm, at New York City's Office of Emergency Management,  Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. He is accompanied by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, left, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, second from right, and Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. Snow began to fall as a massive blizzard headed for the American Northeast on Friday, sending residents scurrying to stock up on food and supplies ahead of a storm poised to dump up to 3 feet of  snow from New York City to Boston and beyond.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Snow day, 2013. Photo: Richard Drew/Corbis

(We were unable to find a photo of Michael Bloomberg shoveling snow.)

Boston’s longtime Mayor Thomas Menino also leaned toward the old-school sweater style:

BOSTON - FEBRUARY 08: Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, surrounded by city officials, briefs the media and citizens of Boston on emergency preparedness during a city hall press conference February 8, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. A coming blizzard is expected to bring heavy snow, high winds and coastal flooding, bringing a halt to public transportation, and airport traffic, beginning this afternoon, and into tomorrow. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Photo: Darren McCollester/2013 Getty Images

While De Blasio stuck to his own sidewalk, he did seem to take a page from the similarly telegenic, next-generation progressive Cory Booker, former mayor of Newark, who seems to be addicted to shoveling snow (and the photos that come with it). Note the serious face of a veteran shoveler:

27 Jan 2011 --- Newark Mayor Cory Booker helps a Newark resident dig out their car out from the snow along University Ave on Thursday, January 27, 2010. Booker has regularly helped residents shovel out from the snow after snow storms.
Photo: Natalia Jimenez/Star Ledger/Corbis

Rudy Giuliani too modeled with a shovel during the snowstorm of 1996, rocking the FDNY hat because of course. In 2000, he switched it up with a Department of Sanitation hat. Call it Staten Island chic:

UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000:  Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a late-morning news conference in Times Square to praise the hard work of the city's Sanitation Department, which calls itself New York's Strongest. After last night's New Year's Eve revelry, a crew of nearly 100 sanitation employees used 67 pieces of equipment to clean the Times Square area. In contrast, he holds a photo of a snow-clogged Kennedy Airport, which was (he claims) inadequately plowed by the Port Authority.
Photo: David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive /Getty Images

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, known for his hurricane fleece, is all about staying warm in a bold purple sweater and bonus scarf, a continuation of his trademark Don't Be Stupid school of thought:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie holds a news conference in front of the Cape May County Library addressing the state of emergency declared in Cape May and Atlantic Counties due to heavy snowfall from the weekend's snow storm, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010 in Cape May Court House, N.J.
Photo: Sean M. Fitzgerald/AP

New Yorkers whining over five inches have nothing on Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel has also been known to pick up a goddamn shovel, here adding a colorful beanie to the otherwise classic look:

But the real experts on winter weather are to our north, in Toronto. Rob Ford, rocking the turtleneck in front of a plow, knows his way around some snow:

06 Dec 2013, Toronto, Ontario, Canada --- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends a news conference at a city public works yard to discuss the city's winter snow plowing agenda December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS) --- Image by ? FRED THORNHILL/Reuters/Corbis
Photo: FRED THORNHILL/? Corbis. All Rights Reserved.