Michael Jackson, says Robin Givhan, the fashion correspondent of the Washington Post, “appears incapable of wearing anything that does not resemble a costume, no matter how serious the circumstances.” It seems that the King of Pop showed up for his trial on the charges of child molestation dressed like, well, the King of Pop. On the trial’s second day, for instance, he wore

a dove gray brocade vest over a red shirt. Instead of a necktie—which he had skipped the day before as well—he wore a medallion at his neck. It wasn’t a bolo, which is typically a thin cord held in place by a sliding metal loop. Jackson’s neckwear was vaguely militaristic and subtly aristocratic. His blazer had an elaborate crest off to one side. Trying to parse all the references and symbols in this ensemble—prep schooler, deposed royalty, honored citizen, embattled soldier—would keep a doctoral candidate in...


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