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Fashion Sense

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Obama: Absent Accessory
There’s a reason GQ doesn’t usually feature politicians on its cover—namely, that they’re about as stylish as a file cabinet. But Obama has clearly separated himself from the pack after recently gracing the covers of both GQ and Men’s Vogue (which earned him a reproach from Maureen Dowd). His trademark look is collared shirt, sports jacket, flat-front pants, and no tie, an ensemble that’s classy but not stuffy. Of course, more serious occasions call for a tie, which Obama wears expertly, apparently. “The tie has a dimple in the knot; it's pulled up pretty authoritatively into his collar,” says menswear designer Alan Flusser in a Washingtonian piece on Obama’s fashion sense. But Flusser isn’t that impressed, saying, “He doesn't dress that specially. If he were wearing a pocket handkerchief, then I would say here is somebody who's trying to develop a sartorial sophistication.” One thing you won’t find on Obama’s lapel is an American-flag pin. Critics equated the missing accessory with Obama’s disdain for America, but the candidate brushed them off: “My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans,” he reasoned. No word on if there’s a support-the-troops magnet on his car.

McCain: The Rebel Goes Republican
When McCain was young, James Dean and Marlon Brando were the style icons he emulated. In his yearbook photo, he is wearing a trench coat with an upturned collar and a cigarette dangles, “Bogey-style," from his lips, Robert Timberg writes. At the Naval Academy, McCain’s uniform was always mildly disheveled, and he never won points for grooming. A fellow POW, Orson Swindle, called McCain the sloppiest man he had ever met. Today, McCain usually looks smartly dressed. The Times labeled McCain a “metrosexual” for a T-shirt-and-V-neck-sweater combo.


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