Just a tie…or the mood of a nation?

When most men stick a necktie on, they rarely put more thought into it than “does this remotely match?” and “does this knot hold the tie on?” Rarely does a man’s necktie decision include a focus group, photo tests or image consultants. Rarely do these things happen, but then rarely do most men have the job title of President of the United States.

Ronald Reagan, looking in charge
(The Reagan Library)

From a major speech to a routine public appearance to a press conference, any candidate or elected official, especially one who is being watched by the entire world, is going to be very careful and mindful of what they wear and what it may say about their politics.

Picking President Obama’s necktie for the 2011 State of the Union
(From The White House)

But when the President speaks, he is speaking for a nation; he must exude confidence while being aware of the current mood of a nation. His outfit, especially the most noticeable piece of it, his tie, must do convey the same message he is presenting. For major events, such as the State of the Union Address, a President’s necktie is put through photo and video tests where they lay the necktie around the neck of a mannequin with a shirt and coat on to see how the color and pattern look in a photo or on camera. Besides appearance, the color and the knot also send a message to anyone watching. Certain colors convey certain messages:

A red tie for the Commander-In-Chief
(The White House)

-Red: Red is known as a color of power, victory, wealth, and strength. Many Presidents wear red ties especially when making major speeches, visiting foreign countries or greeting military commanders.

-Blue: Blue is seen as a color of calmness and compassion. A blue tie is seen by many as giving the impression of empathy, such as when visiting a homeless shelter or an elementary school.

President Bush’s blue tie (which he was frequently seen in) seemed to match his message of Compassionate Conservatism
(The White House)

-Black or Grey: Both these colors send a sense or somberness or seriousness. When President Obama spoke about the financial crisis during his first few weeks in office, a grey tie was around his neck.

With all these different messages, you can see how the President would need a whole team to help him decide which tie goes best. Next week I’ll look at the actual knots of a tie and what they say about the candidate wearing it.

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