[H]is salt-and-pepper hooded sweater with the sort of toggle closures that might be found on a child’s coat... managed to telegraph the dual message of grandfatherly trust and warmth, as well as impish innocence. What the sweater most vehemently did not imply was money and power, which Cosby has in abundance....Givhan's critique is justified, and yet, Cosby's dressing to maximize his advantage is also entirely justified. The question is whether that sweater was his best choice. If it's obvious he's trying to seem like a pathetic old man when, in fact, he is not, then the sweater undercuts his credibility. Maybe he should have dialed his I'm-a-pathetic-old-man look back a notch. But he is 78, and the old-man routine seems pretty plausible. He is old, even as the charge against him is old.
The Cosby promenade delivered a... pungent and cynical statement. It suggested that Cosby — a man who last year completed a rigorous national comedy tour in the face of mounting scandal — is doddering and fragile and incapable of moving through the world unassisted.
Givhan's column is titled "Did Bill Cosby’s grandpa sweater make you feel bad for him? Why this con didn’t work." But I don't understand why it didn't work, or even why it shouldn't work. Or why it's a "con." Givhan lists some actors who are in their 70s — Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, etc. — and implies that they dress spiffily. She says that Cosby could have worn "a shirt and tie or a business suit." But look at the pictures of Cosby from that "rigorous national comedy tour" last year. He was wearing a big, baggy gray sweatsuit. The "studiously unattractive sweater" was a significant step up in nattiness from his concert outfit. So I think it's less of a con than the suit and tie that unfamous criminal defendants wear to their arraignments all the time.