Against all odds, Donald Trump is leader of the free world. And despite promises of big Mexican walls and dodgy ‘locker room chat’, Lil’ Hillary was right in that we owe him “an open mind”. Which is fair, but no man should be forgiven for using scotch tape in lieu of a tie bar.
Thankfully, not all former presidents have been so sartorially challenged. To celebrate/despair (delete as appropriate) the 45th presidential inauguration, we look to the White House’s previous commanders-in-style.
President Truman didn’t cut his teeth interning on Capitol Hill, rather at a haberdashery in Kansas City. That could go some way towards explaining his wardrobe prowess and his nickname – no not ‘Give ‘Em Hell Harry’, but the haberdasher.
Not only did Truman boss large lapels, he was well known for making the bow tie look good within stuffy conservative circles – a feat even Roosevelt struggled with.
John Fitzgerald ‘Jack’ Kennedy is the presidential benchmark in both temperament and style. Arguably the most iconic POTUS, the archive of memorable outfits we’re left with is still every bit as influential as the man himself.
The King of Camelot’s style points weren’t just earned on the campaign trail either. A Hamptons yacht trip was punctuated with cropped cream trousers and a pair of classic Wayfarers, while the knitted polo shirt became one of JFK’s signature pieces. I guess we know who to credit for all the inspiration 54 years on.
We’d rather see a resurgence of rubella than suffer a repeat of tophats and muttonchops (honestly, Abe). That said, not all of Lincoln’s wardrobe was bad.
His well-trimmed beard was lightyears ahead of the hipster trend and judging by this picture he also predicted the rise of relaxed tailoring about 150-years in advance.
Obama’s wardrobe leaves a lot to be desired: ill-fitting denim that earned him the nickname ‘President Mom Jeans’, wraparound Oakleys and unflattering, boxy blazers. Plus, those problems are only compacted when your wife is nailing it on the world stage.
But with all great lows come great highs. The man can fill out a dinner suit like no other. Then there’s his oatmeal safari two-piece, and who can forget No Drama Obama’s official POTUS bomber jacket. Yes, he did.
Chester A. Arthur
The 21st President wasn’t called the ‘gentleman boss’ for nothing. With an extensive and somewhat ostentatious wardrobe, his ankle-length fur trimmed coats made him the Republican’s Rick Ross of the 1880s.
To celebrate his inauguration, the Big C dropped over $15,000 on a Brooks Brothers shopping spree. MTV Cribs doesn’t do presidents, but if they did…
George Bush Jr
Supposedly had the lowest IQ of the lot, but still a high flyer in the style department. George Bush’s legacy extends beyond imagined weapons of mass destruction.
In his youth, G-Dub nailed the Ivy League preppy look with Oxford shirts and letterman jumpers a plenty, before graduating to office and imposing a suits e’ryday dress code, always finished with a sharp overcoat.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR will always be remembered for the New Deal, but don’t let economic turnaround trump his unabashed style and taste.
The charismatic president had a penchant for yachts, mansions and French ciggies, and some would say he pulled off morning dress better than any British counterpart. Impressive stuff for a man that was forced to wear metal braces to combat his polio-riddled posture.
Slick Willie was hardly the sartorialist during his presidential days. However, since his wife’s White House bid, the oh-so-close first gentleman made somewhat of a turnaround.
Recent TV appearances were underpinned by a slew of Windsor knots and Savile Row-worthy three-pieces, proving that you can teach an old POTUS new tricks.
Reagan might not have been solely responsible for the ’80s Wall Street boom, but he is credited with sending sales of power suits skywards.
Sharp lapels, pinstripes and contrast collars were all lynchpins of The Great Communicator’s style and were quickly imitated nationwide. Buy buy buy.
Honourable Mention: Joe Biden
It’s unlikely the Sheriff will ever make it to the America’s highest office, but he did sit second place with an arsenal of style tricks worth mentioning.
Obama’s VP placed a flourish behind the most conservative of get-ups, be it a Ralph Lauren-esque striped tie, Senate cufflinks or, his personal favourite, the triple-peak pocket square. Not bad for a bloke old enough to be your grandad.