Can Trump’s Hair Survive Inauguration Day?
The biggest crisis facing the president-elect on Day 1: how to keep that combover under control during his swearing-in.
A whirlwind of questions surround the future theoretical Donald Trump administration. But the first one they’ll have to address is how Donald Trump’s mop of hair will handle the wind on Capitol Hill on Inauguration Day.
Trump’s locks are art meets disarray, like a drunk Bridget Riley painting, like a performance of Swan Lake if half of the dancers started doing Fosse choreography in the middle of the second act. It zooms in all directions like a follicular spaghetti junction. Penn Jillet described it as “cotton candy made of piss.”
In recent years, Donald Trump’s hair has become the subject of widespread speculation and fascination. Despite the president-elect’s insistence that he grew every strand of it himself—backed up by the hair tousling that will likely define Jimmy Fallon’s career long after climate change has submerged his New York City studio in salt water—some evidence draws that claim into question. Gawker’s Ashley Feinberg concluded after a lengthy investigation that Trump’s hair was likely a $60,000 weave constructed by a hair restoration expert with an office in Trump Tower. An unauthorized 1993 biography of Trump claimed that he’d undergone a plastic surgery procedure wherein balding parts of the scalp are removed and the skin over the head is stretched together and sewn shut. Men’s Health found that theory truthy in the Stephen Colbert sense; it felt right that Trump’s combover would be designed to hide something, like the scar from flap surgery.
On the campaign trail, Trump kept a crimson Make America Great Again cap plopped on his noggin, thus maximizing his audience’s exposure to his campaign’s catchphrase. That baseball hat—a bit of an anachronism for a self-proclaimed billionaire who normally outfits himself in only the uniform of the cartoon aristocrat—was on his head nearly every time the now-president-elect went outdoors, every time he stood on a podium and yelled about Mexicans into a microphone. But somebody familiar with a few of the character traits for which Trump is famous—vanity, obsession with the appearance of caveman virility—might interpret the MAGA hat’s sartorial ubiquity differently. Maybe the hat isn’t simply a canny branding effort. Maybe the hat is the only thing between The Donald and a pileous catastrophe. After all, like Donald Trump rally attendees and Donald Trump rally protesters, the wind and Donald Trump’s hair have not historically gotten along. Put simply, the Make America Great Again cap may be an important branding tool, but that may not be its sole purpose. It may additionally function as a way to keep Donald Trump’s hair from separating from his scalp enough to reveal that the emperor has no clothes. Or functional hair follicles.
Donald Trump’s reliance on a hat to keep his hair in check could turn out to be a problem on Jan. 20, 2017, when he is inaugurated as president of the United States. According to data from the National Weather Service, the weather has cooperated with only a few presidential inaugurations. In 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn in at a balmy 55 degrees. But on his second inauguration in 1985, he wasn’t so lucky; the weather was so cold that the swearing-in ceremony had to be moved indoors. John F. Kennedy was inaugurated the day after the sky dropped 8 inches of snow on the District. FDR’s second inauguration took place in the rain. Despite the unpredictability of the weather, presidents do not traditionally wear hats for the ceremony. A quick perusal of the last several inaugurations shows that not one president since the midway point of the 20th century—not Obama, either Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, or Eisenhower—wore a hat while being sworn in. What will Trump do about his hair without the crutch of the MAGA hat?
The uniqueness of whatever Trump’s hair is assures that traditional remedies wig-wearers seek in inclement weather won’t do. If Trump wore a toupee, for example, he could just have his Secretary of Artifice Maintenance double stick that sucker down before he ventured out into the elements. If Trump wore a lace wig, he could rely on the craftsmanship of the piece to look natural despite the occasional unpredictable breeze. But because at least some element of his hair is authentically attached to his head and because, whatever the coiffure is, it’s obviously a combover of some kind, he’s got few options. Online combover styling tutorials urge strategic use of product. But hairspray or styling creme or vanity wax can only go so far before turning a combover into a helmet, and the puffiness of Trump’s preferred style means that his options are severely limited.
There’s always the possibility that Trump could opt to break with tradition in January and debut a more reverent hat. But what sort of hat would be appropriate for such an event? A fedora? A fez? A Make America Great Again top hat? All of these choices would be just as jarring as if The Donald showed up for one of the most serious and important ceremonies in American democracy wearing a red baseball hat emblazoned with an ad slogan. There’s also the issue of removing the cap at the moment he places his hand on the Bible and stands opposite Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; he can’t very well leave it on, but taking it off could be a real disaster. A hat that can both keep Donald Trump’s hair from flipping up like the lid of a tin can and be removed without disturbing his elaborate series of slick backs and forwards would be a truly historical feat of haberdashery.
Without the ability to effectively shellac his hair down with products or headwear, Team Trump could be forced to explore structural remedies. They could demand a little wedding altar-like structure be erected over the site of the Capitol Hill swearing in, but that, too, would break with tradition and project the image that Trump is a wimp who cannot handle being outdoors without establishing a safe space for his hair within it. It would also give the awkward appearance that Donald Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts are getting married.
The only real solution here is prayer. Team Trump needs to put their over-lotioned hands together at the palms and gaze heavenward, praying to the universe’s indifference that maybe, maybe things will be bad enough on Jan. 20 that the whole thing gets canceled. Maybe a rainstorm will move the whole thing indoors, maybe it will be dangerously cold. But the likelihood of either of those things happening is slim. What’s more likely is that Trump will need to hope that the breeze over the National Mall at noon, like the breaths of Americans bearing witness, catches momentarily, in its moment of shock, and falls still.