Presidential Style = Popular Style

Presidential suaveness.
(The Reagan Library)

Always looking the part, Reagan
(photographer unknown)

You have to admit, the man has got style.
(Peggy Sirota, GQ)

If you look at the popular styles for men’s dress clothes over the years, you will almost certainly notice that the style of the popular President at the time becomes the staple for men’s clothing. One can look no further than JFK;  his style of “New England prep” remains a mainstay in American fashion, even today. Look at the late 70s, and the lax view of men’s style:Jimmy Carter’s comfy sweaters became a staple in his–and everyone else’s– everyday wardrobe.

Jimmy Carter, speaking to nation from the White House...in a cardigan
(screen shot from Presidential Address, source unknown)

The image of the President mirrors the image of the nation and what the people look to as the pinnacle of professional style. Reagan’s tailored, old-school style contributed to the “Wall Street” business look made famous by Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglass) and became the look for the professional male. During the 90s, Bill Clinton, working the image of the middle class, “average” American, would frequently be seen in polos and button-downs without ties, pushing cultural shift from “business” to “business casual”, leading offices across the country to embrace the new “casual Friday” mentality.

Bill Clinton, being the "average guy"
(Getty Images)

(This only helped to hasten the decline in men’s clothing businesses, increasing the popularity of “off the rack” suits and less professional-looking office environments.)

Wearing the large lapels and boxy suits became a staple of the 90s
(The Clinton Library)

That laid back style continued up until the current administration, with President Obama. A very fashion-savvy individual, this Commander-In-Chief is bringing back the tailored suit and popularizing a professional office look, even on Fridays. Just take a look through the pages of a current issue of Esquire or Gentleman’s Quarterly (more popularly known as GQ) to see the style tips and “must haves” for the season. Invariably, you’ll notice more suits and ties and less jeans, khakis and tees.

Keeping it classy in the Oval Office.
(Pete Souza, The White House)

So, even though you may say “my vote doesn’t matter,” just remember, your vote may change the perception of men’s popular fashion for years to come.