Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Barack Obama's Impact on Men's Fashion

Fashion came to the forefront of the news many times in the recent presidential race. Hillary Clinton's pantsuits have been a popular topic since the Clintons were in the White House and during her candidacy, that trend continued. Governor Sarah Palin's alleged campaign wardrobe shopping spree was and is a controversial subject that will surely keep journalists occupied for some time to come. We were provided with the name of the designer of every dress worn by candidates and candidate's spouses throughout this historic election. This isn't unusual.

What is, perhaps, unusual is that certain events in this election brought the wardrobe of President Elect Barack Obama into focus. During the campaign, Obama's references to his conservative outlook on suits, and his tendency to wear an open collar without a necktie caused minor stirs in the national news. As a result, Mr. Obama's fashion preferences have become an uncommonly high-profile item. It isn't often that the men's fashion industry finds an icon, but that may very well be the case in this instance.

Since the election, sales of the suit that our President Elect prefers have reportedly risen dramatically. The suit, from Hartmax, is a sensible cut, with sharp, clean lines, so it isn't really surprising that it would gain popularity after a bit of extra exposure in the media as the choice of a successful presidential candidate. Of course, the fact that the candidate in question has a youthful, vigorous appearance probably didn't do any harm. Mr. Obama's air of confidence and slightly casual mannerisms are also likely to have been of some influence. In any case, it seems that the American male has definitely taken notice. We can expect to see more of this and similar styles on businessmen and professionals, at least in the near future.

As for skipping the necktie, it would be difficult to say whether Barack Obama has had or will have an influence on the male public. What the press seems to have missed is that those occasions where, as a candidate, he was seen without a tie, could easily have been considered casual. (I know. The idea of the press missing something in a story is simply preposterous, right?) The practice of wearing a suit without a tie has been acceptable in casual to semi-formal situations for decades. It's common, in fact, for a man to loosen or remove his tie after the more formal portion of an event or function. The President Elect's formal public appearances have included very tasteful and fashionable neckties. Whether he's more comfortable with or without the tie, Mr. Obama knows when and how to look his best.

So, while it's clear that the fashion preferences of the newly elected American president have had an impact on the public, the apparent main influence has been in basing a man's dress wardrobe on a few sensible suits. Don't throw away your neckties. You'll need them.


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