Hail to the Chic

October 21, 2011

In 2009, when President Obama took the mound at an All-Star baseball game, he displayed an embarrassing lapse in sartorial judgment, donning baggy, high-waisted “mom jeans.” He later appeared on NBC’s “Today” and acknowledged the faux pas: “I’m a little frumpy. … I hate to shop.” But all aspiring presidents struggle with the balance between seeming too slick and dressing like a Midwestern high-school principal. Here, we see how the 2012 GOP candidates stack up in the eternal style debate.

See a gallery of candidate fashion fails.


From left: Rick Santorum is not a heavyset fellow, but the camera and his suits add about 30 pounds to his frame. At 53, the former senator is young enough to rock a slim-fitted suit, and needs to, please, wear pants without pleats!

Double-breasted jackets were once the signature of bankers and skippers. But with Prince William and Ryan Gosling reviving this trad style, Herman Cain looks confident and trendy. But perhaps he should buy a tie that’s not mozzarella yellow.

Hoping for a Ron Paul victory? Polls indicate it probably won’t happen this election cycle. Instead, root for this Texas congressman to find a tailor who can hem those long pants.

Forget Romneycare flip-flopping. Mitt Romney‘s look morphs fast! Didn’t we see this front-runner as Gaston in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”? And hasn’t he been president already, fighting aliens as President Whitmore in “Independence Day”?

It’s hard to praise the suit if the shoes don’t fit. Kate Middleton caused the current panty hose craze, but, unfortunately, for Michele Bachmann, she forgot the first rule of sheer stockings: Always wear tights with closed-toe pumps.


From left: Everything’s bigger in Texas — or when Gov. Rick Perry dons it. Wearing a large-enough-to-club-a-coyote signet ring, monogrammed shirt cuffs and — are those sparkly embellished cuff links? — Perry’s loud style fits his feisty, oversize personality. This candidate also seems mighty comfortable wielding a revolver.

Jon Huntsman makes his moderate stance on evolution and global warming known. In case you doubt his bipartisan credentials — he used to be ambassador to China under Obama — the purple tie proves he likes to combine the best of red and blue.

Before Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House in 1995, he was a history professor. These hideous ties from his early career were more faculty lounge than bully pulpit. While his suit hasn’t changed, his ties have improved greatly!

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.
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Vicky Hallett · October 21, 2011