The Two Obamas: Robin Givhan Lays Into Prez’s Mom Jeans

By
Photo: Getty Images

"The overarching aesthetic problem with Obama's jeans was they seemed to have only a passing acquaintance with the dimensions of his body." Ouch. And so begins a near-seditious exploration into the president's casual-time wardrobe by the Washington Post's redoubtable Robin Givhan, who, after moving from New York to D.C., has become the standing expert of the new, breathless fashion beat First Family Style. Giving kudos to Mr. Obama's business-time style — he is the first GQ president, after all — Givhan explores the yawning chasm between Barack Formal and Barack Casual. Speaking generally of presidential playtime attire, she notes. "It's only when [presidents] stray from that uniform — and stray they must when they head off to Camp David, do a bit of glad-handing with working folks or throw out those ceremonial pitches — that some hint of personality, of their skill at image-making, comes through." With his "Mom jeans," Givhan's logic goes, our current commander-in-chief, is a bit of a frump — more Wal-Mart bargain aisle than Kennedy cool. How is it then that our made-for-CNN president fails at this all-important dimension of leadership and domestic policy? Ms. Givhan would have it that Obama is trying to straddle populism and his natural tendency toward elitism (perhaps forcing him into jeans with sufficient leg room) — an oft-noted dilemma for this young president. The critic has no suggestions for the CIC, leaving him in that no-man's-land between upscale black-Chicago cool and Joe the Plumber. Perhaps he should ditch casualwear altogether and just stick to beachwear. Chest shots only seem to help the guy's poll numbers, after all.

For the President, A Dilemma Regarding Denim [WP]
Earlier: Barack Obama on His Mom Jeans: ‘I’m a Little Frumpy’