Politics and Business
Biden vs Trump: Does the President Need to Be Stylish?
As the years since Obama’s eight-year-long presidency grow increasingly distant, one of the main things he will be remembered for won’t be his monumental healthcare, the grace he had under pressure, or the capability and hope he radiated. He will be remembered for the day he wore a tan suit. The tan suit controversy occurred on August 28, 2014 and remains the biggest scandal of the Obama administration. Given how much attention this garnered, how have Biden and Trump navigated the watchful eyes of presidential fashions?
Who Wore It Best?
Joe Biden is undeniably stylish, wearing well-fitting suits and suitable Ralph Lauren, and other prestige brands, for leisure time. His daughter is a fashion designer, so it’s no surprise that his attire stays on-trend. The sharp-dressed Democrat keeps simplicity to the forefront of his style choices, so that critique of his appearance can be removed from any debate.
Trump’s fashion can be boiled down to three areas: his ill-fitting suits, his golfing attire, and the red MAGA hats. The former has been criticized by style watchpersons such as Grazia, who reprimanded the president for wearing a navy jacket with black trousers. The MAGA hats – as any baseball cap would do – detract from the statesmanlike image Trump aims to present. Trump’s disheveled suits may have been less noticeable when his opponent wasn’t wearing ones that fit better.
Does Fashion Matter for the President?
Will their fashions have a bearing on whether they win? The Betsson US election odds show that Trump currently lags behind Biden. His odds of winning the presidency are 2.55 (31/20), while Biden’s are 1.62 (31/50), meaning Biden is more likely to win. These odds are derived from the polls, any information from early voting, and in-depth analysis of states. Importantly, this information is also derived from public opinion and response, which could be influenced by outrageous or ruinous fashion choices.
But why do the fashion styles of the prospective presidents matter? Fashion can be used as a bellwether for the public. When Obama wore ‘mom jeans’, he resonated with people across the land as being ‘uncool’ but relatable in his attire. George W Bush was criticized for his ‘hot weather’ attire, which consisted of billowing short-sleeved shirts to combat the heat. Mike Dukakis’s presidential run in 1988 was ruined by a now-infamous tank ride, where the Democrat hopeful donned an army hat to ride in a tank, ending up a laughingstock and destroying his credibility.
Reagan used to wear a plaid suit – taking inspiration from his days as a Hollywood actor – and received praise for doing so (as well as derision from traditionalists). Ultimately, the suit helped portray him as looking less stuffy and bringing some panache to the Oval Office. Kennedy is perhaps the most fashionable president, with well-fitting suits. Many also credit the style icon that is Jackie Kennedy Onassis for showing that the First Lady can have an identity too.
Obama used to say that he wore the same suit to ‘pare down’ the decisions he had to make on the job. This makes sense from a practical standpoint. But fashion tells us something else. In the same way that looking your best at a job interview gives a good first impression, it also proves you have awareness about yourself, have attention to detail, and can analyze situations. Their fashion styles may not determine if they receive votes to be president, but they may become engulfed as part of a wider decision.