Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body
Although Nick attempts to pass the riding clothes off as an attempt at hiding Tom’s “enormous body,” these clothes can be seen much like a king’s cape, a sign that Tom is of old wealth, because he is dressed for a sport associated with old wealth. These clothes, described as possessing an “effeminate swank” brings the imagery of silk garments to mind. The clothes are, in fact, designed to impress upon the viewer Tom’s superiority. Tom purposefully exposes the “power” of his body to show that he is a better physical specimen, yet another sign of “social” superiority. The outfit Tom greets Nick in, much like the flowing ivy of his house, is designed to remind the world that having ‘old wealth’ is equal to superiority, and is very natural for Tom.
The clothes in the gold medal winning team’s picture suggests that riding originated as a wealthy sport.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit "The Great Gatsby (Chapter I)" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box