(Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
"Esquire" has picked Pope Francis as its "Best Dressed Man of the Year,"a designation that the men's fashion and lifestyle magazine has previously doled out to actors such as Bradley Cooper and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
"Esquire" asserted that the Catholic leader's dress reflected "a new era (and for many, renewed hope) for the Catholic Church."
Since assuming the papacy in March of this year, Pope Francis has continually made waves in the media, less for key disruptions or reforms in church policy, but largely because of small, more intimate and personal gestures, many of which when leaked to the press or photographed, have gone viral.
The magazine pointed to Pope Francis' actions like "paying his own bill at a hotel owned by the church or washing the feet of inmates (two of whom were female) on Holy Thursday," and added that his apparel was just one more way that he was harkening to a new era in Catholicism.
"The black shoes and unadorned, simplistic regalia are just an outward acknowledgement of his progressive orthodoxy," it said.
These black shoes stood in contrast to the apparel of one of the twentieth century's most popular popes, said Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant professor of menswear design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
"His mode of dressing really does reflect the mindset behind it," Blackman told Esquire. "I remember when John Paul II was buried in those opulent bright red shoes. When the current pope was elected and chose not to wear the red shoes I thought that was very reflective of his approach to being a person functioning in a role."
Esquire said that Pope Francis' dress was also indicative of his humility and approachability, a characteristic the magazine claimed he had modeled through his Twitter presence, modest apartment, and taking selfies with excited young Catholics.
"The humility of his garments offers a way to visibly display his theological and material concerns for the poor. This Holy Roman emperor really does have new clothes," said Ann Pellegrini, associate professor of Performance Studies & Religious Studies at New York University.