Where to go to dress like a Commander-In-Chief

This week, while thinking about post ideas, my Dad called me to ask me about buying a new suit. We quickly got off topic and began to talk politics, the Presidential election and  where Presidential candidates get their clothes. I’ve already talked about what Presidents wear, what they should wear, and so it only makes sense to discuss where to buy these items! (Think navy suits, red ties, black wing-tips, and, if you’re visiting a warehouse, some jeans and a button-down to better “connect you with the working man”).

I’m going to start with an old staple of New England style that has classed up many a Commander-In-Chief. J. Press, founded in 1902 in New Haven, Connecticut, has been a staple to Ivy League wearers for over 100 years. J. Press has stores in Massachusetts, New York, and D.C., and is sure to have the right make (of suit) to make anyone look like a Presidential contender. J. Press is quintessential New England prep and it’s here to stay.

G.H.W. Bush looking always classy, sporting a "presidential" version of New England prep (The George H. W. Bush Library)

One story that shows J. Press’s impression on Presidential style and the loyalty of its wearers, is one I’ve heard many times: it involves President George H. W. Bush. While campaigning at his alma mater, Yale, in 1980, Bush received heckling comments from passersby, one of them calling him just “another Brooks Brothers Republican.” On hearing this, the President opened his jacket to reveal the J. Press label. BOOM ROASTED!

Hart , Schaffner, Marx is the suit of choice for President Obama. Founded in 1887 in the Chicago area, HSM is another staple of men’s clothing, known for their trim-fitting suits that exude power and style.

Obama accepts the 2008 Democratic Nomination in a custom HSM suit and tie (photographer unknown)

HSM is one of the few major brand of suits still made in the USA. Each suit is completely hand cut, giving it a certain feel and look that can not be replicated by any old “off the rack suit.” This allows for the wearer to be the best dressed man in the room (which also helps when you look as Presidential as Obama does in a suit and tie).

If you have the money and you want to follow in the foot steps of some of the best-dressed men in the White House, (not to mention Hollywood) then Oxxford Clothes, founded in Chicago in 1916, is the place for you. Known for their traditional, high-quality suits, Oxxford has long been an essential for some of the most powerful men in the world.

G.W. Bush, in Oxxford, at his 2001 Inauguration (The Bush Library)

Oxxford was the tailor of choice for both President Bushes and Presidents Ford and Johnson. Oxxford’s past client list includes Cary Grant, Joe DiMaggio, Walt Disney, and, reportedly, Al Capone. Oxxford is, again, all-American made (as is the trend) and sold in a few higher-end clothing stores (such as Louis Boston), focusing mainly on tailor-made suits. If you are ever in need of a good suit (and have a few thousand bucks lying around!) go to Oxxford.

I decided to end with my favorite of the “Presidential” clothing stores: Brooks Brothers. This American staple has been one of my favorite stores for many years. Brooks sells the full spectrum of men’s clothing, and their sports shirts are special favorites of Presidents and Presidential candidates alike

Bill Clinton, sporting Brooks Brothers the day after the '92 election (photo from Brooks Brothers)

(que Bill Clinton and Joe Biden; also Grant, Hoover, FDR, JFK, and Nixon; and also Stephen Colbert).

Vice President Biden (photo by Andy Cutraro)

Brooks Brothers is the oldest men’s clothing store/company in America, having founded their flagship store in 1818 on New York City’s Madison Avenue. Brooks Brothers is known for their top quality clothing, and, my personal favorite, their neckties. (Full disclosure, I own close to 50 Brooks Brothers ties, not counting non-Brooks ties, so I am a tad bit bias.) To show you the strong connection to Presidents Brooks Brothers holds, they did not sell an off-the-rack black suit for over 100 years, as they were the tailors of the black coat worn by Abraham Lincoln (specially made for him for his second Inauguration, and embroidered inside with “One Country. One Destiny”) when he was assassinated in 1865. To honor him, they refrained from off-the-rack black suits until the 90s. Brooks Brother’s has introduced to the American public such mainstay pieces as the button down shirt, the argyle sock and seersucker fabric. If you want the Presidential look, Brooks Brothers is the place to get it.

I hope you will now be inspired to go out, boost the economy and bring the “Presidential treatment” to your wardrobe. Go into a meeting, to a  job interview or out on a date dressed in some pieces from these places, and I guarantee the employer (or your hot date) will think you’re running for office, too!

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