The 5 Most Important Fashion Moments In Presidential History

When we think of Congress, an ensemble of old, white men in dark suits and red ties floats before our eyes. “Conservative” not only applies to half of the politicians, it is the go-word for their sense of style. Then there are those rare few who cast off the bonds of tradition, and the country follows.

1. John F. Kennedy Wore No Hat

Before Kennedy, men wore hats to protect them from the rain and sun and to be stylish. That all changed when Kennedy appeared bareheaded at his inauguration rather than wear the customary top hat. No president ever wore the top hat again, and Kennedy’s decision nearly drove the hat business out of existence.

JFK Changed Mens Fashion Trends When He Wore No Hat
President John F. Kennedy Without A Hat, Changed Mens Fashion Trends. Image by That Hartford Guy via Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license.

2. Jimmy Carter’s Cardigan

Carter, a Georgia peanut farmer, beat incumbent President Gerald Ford in a race for the White House. Taking a page from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio Fireside Chats, Carter addressed the nation on television wearing a beige cardigan, and people loved it. The sweater was symbolic of his energy conservation. Carter actually turned down the thermostat in the White House to save energy.

Mens Fashion Trends Changed By Carter
Jimmy Carter Changed Mens Fashion Trends. Image Courtesy Of C-Span.

3. Bill Clinton’s Jogging Shorts

Bill Clinton often diverted his morning run into a fast-food restaurant. During his jogs, people would run along side of him, making the Secret Service crazy. This was symbolic of Clinton as a man of the people. Clinton’s shorts appear skimpy now, but basketball players used to wear Clintonesque shorts before they went to culotte-length. It wasn’t until 2003 when NBA players traded in their shorter shorts.

Mens Fashion Trends Changed By Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton’s Shorts Changed Mens Fashion Trends. Image Courtesy Of Vanity Fair.

4. George W. Bush’s Cowboy Boots

President Bush 43’s cowboy boots spoke of his Texas pride. Of course, Texas was Bush’s adopted state, but he was governor from 1995 to 2000 and married his Lone Star sweetheart. Bush adopted the good ol’ boy patina after a genuine good ol’ boy beat him in a political race, and it worked. Voters watched as cowboy boots went formal and joined the trend.

Mens Fashion Trends Changed By Bush
George W. Bush’s Cowboy Boots Changed Mens Fashion Trends. (Seated L-R, First Lady Laura Bush, President George W. Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush, President H.W. Bush) Image Courtesy Of Public Domain

5. Barack Obama’s Tan Suit

You might have thought President Obama killed someone on the White House steps. The gasps were audible. Obama broke tradition when he appeared at a press conference in a tan suit and shifted the style away from a sea of navy and gray. Maybe previous presidents lacked Obama’s elegant build and ability to carry the tan suit off with grace.

Mens Fashion Trends Changed By President Obama
President Obama’s Tan Suit Changed Mens Fashion Trends. Image Courtesy Of Arshad Y. Khan On Facebook.

With the weight of the mens fashion trends weighing upon the 2016 presidential candidates, we must vote with care. We wouldn’t want men running around with Donald Trump hair, would we?