Obama: Mom Jeans and Bespoke Suits
Prior to becoming president, Obama’s trademark look was a collared shirt, sports jacket, flat-front pants, and no tie. Leading the free world obviously requires a more formal look, although it didn’t prove very lucky for Hartmarx, which made the tuxedo President Obama wore to his inauguration balls. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just three days later. Obama was ridiculed for wearing “mom jeans” to throw out the first pitch at the 2009 All-Star Game, perhaps prompting him (most likely with input from Michelle) to get a fashion upgrade in 2011, as he “shed his traditional center-cut suit coats in favor of jackets sporting two side vents, a sleeker look that originated on London’s Savile Row to cater to the riding set.” His only accessory is a gift from his Secret Service detail: a Jorg Gray 6500 Chronograph.
Romney: At Home in a Suit
While nearby Berkeley and the Haight-Ashbury were beginning to see peasant skirts, dashikis, and tie-dye, Romney arrived for his freshman year at Stanford in 1965 “with his dark blazers and narrow ties, his idiom peppered with ‘oh gosh’ and ‘oh boy,’” wrote a Boston Globe reporter in summer 2007. “Even in the casual environment of graduate school, Romney maintained a clean-cut, buttoned-up image,” though one of his law-school pals tempered that visual a bit. “Most of us dressed like borderline slobs, and he was a little neater than that.” By 2002, People magazine had named Romney, a near-celebrity for his turnaround of the Winter Olympics scheduled for later that year in Salt Lake City, one of its “50 Most Beautiful People in the World,” noting in a not really complimentary way that critics have sometimes described him as a “too-perfect Ken doll.” A few years after that, Fortune’s Marcia Vickers graded his “pure Brooks Brothers” look: “You could interpret Romney’s wardrobe as a sign of Nixonian stiffness. Or as a deliberate choice, which may be closer to the truth.” Even on the 85-degree day that she followed Romney around, “surrounded by people in shorts, the man won’t so much as loosen his tie.” Even at the family summer home at Lake Winnipesaukee, Romney’s sons would beseech him to lose the jacket, but he wouldn’t. “All they’ll see is my blinding white shirt,” he said. But Romney has shown that he can, on the rare occasion, go casual — like when he implemented a logoed, chambray-shirted uniform for the Winter Olympics team — or even downright unfashionable, like the time he was photographed in skinny jeans.