Now that we're less than less than eight months away from the presidential election, it's all eyes on the frontrunners — and what they're wearing. What's up with Hillary's yellow frock? Is Bernie's suit blue or brown? Where is Trump getting his ties?
For male presidential candidates, it should be simple: Put on a blue or white shirt, put on some decent pants and then maybe a suit jacket to top it all off. But this election year, the two male frontrunners haven't quite gotten in the swing of things yet. What we're saying is: Neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders know how to wear a fucking suit.
Before you scream "Why should these men care about fashion? They're trying to be the leaders of the free world!" or, "Caring about fashion is for girls only, Mic!" let's establish a few things. First, what politicians wear matters. How you dress — like it or not — affects how people see you and treat you. Consider, for example, how deliberately we dress for job interviews. The campaign trail is like one really long interview, in which the "boss" you're trying to win over are voters.
Second, let's look at some evidence.
Exhibit A: Donald Trump's truly gigantic suit jackets
As the Washington Post remarked, "They are always a little too roomy, the sleeves a tad too long. So much so that they look cheap."
Of course the argument for this sartorial decision is that it is, truly, his decision. He could wear pink suits if he wanted to. He could also wear a yellow hat one day, or a sensible shawl if that's what strikes his fancy. But one might think he'd put in more effort here, given that he certainly has the money for a good tailor, a wife who's worked in the fashion industry and a daughter with a clothing line.
"It would be so easy for Mr. Trump," Stephen Ferber, the creative director of menswear brand Stephen F, which specializes in tailoring, said in a phone interview. "His wife is very into fashion, but he's just playing his own game. He doesn't care. He'd do whatever he wants. The fabrics he's using are amazing, but fit isn't that good."
But given that clothes do convey all sorts of messages, it could be Trump is actually sending a specific message with the roomy suits.
"It could be that he wants to look bigger than he is," Ferber said. "When he says something, you're listening to him. But Donald Trump is that kind of person. He is loud, he's not this shy guy sitting in the corner and that reflects in his clothing and even the whole way of who he is."
In other words, huge suits with oversized shoulders to make him appear bigger is all part of his plan.
For a little perspective, also consider that none of the female candidates this year have had nearly the trouble finding a jacket that fits, because they're not afforded the opportunity not to (thanks, sexism). If they don't look so professional, they make headlines, like when Carly Fiorina wore a pink suit and Clinton went without makeup.
So for equality's sake, Donald, fucking step it up.
Exhibit B: Bernie Sanders' pleated, billowy pants
Bernie Sanders' regular attire consists of a relaxed jacket, a light blue shirt and a pair gigantic, pleated pants that puddle at his shoes. They're dad pants, if your dad happens to teach Early American History at Yale.
They are wide. They are loose. They blow in the wind. They droop around his loafers. It's the look of a guy who's far too busy thinking about your college debt or the minimum wage to care about how his pants are about five inches too long. It's also the look of a guy who's been wearing the same sort of clothes for years now, and figures that it's really not worth it to change.
"He probably wore that 25 years ago or something similar," Ferber said. "He feels like if he made it so far, he's going to make it another 15 or 20 years. If he feels comfortable, he feels comfortable."
People already like that casualness, which may be why people respond to politicians when they don't dress so pristinely. According to the Los Angeles Times, "a less formal look conveys compassion, a roll-up-the-sleeves, I-share-your-pain presence on the scene."
But, Ferber said, "It would be so easy for him to put himself in something that looks more sharp, and it doesn't have to look like a fashionista."
That's a lesson a man named Barack Obama learned years ago, as he was also a victim to the huge pant, before cleaning up his act to be more presidential (and go toe-to-toe with stylish hunks like Justin Trudeau).
So things can change but in the meantime, please keep Sanders away from any and all pleats.
Exhibit C: Donald Trump's enormous ties
Like most things about Donald Trump's style, his ties are far too big and far too long. Usually, a man's tie is supposed to hit just around the belt buckle; Trumps' extend far below like a long, flapping tongue.
As the Washington Post's Robin Givhan put it, "Trump's tie always seem to hang just a little too far below his belt, which makes a perfectly fine four-in-hand look not quite right. He makes ties look sloppy."
It's certainly not helping that he chooses the brightest possible ties, further drawing attention to how oversized they are.
Exhibit D: Bernie Sanders' lack of ironing ever
Sure, Bernie may be banking on having a relatable style, but where does it stop getting endearing and start getting sloppy? It's something the Washington Post has even picked up on, publishing an an article titled "Why does Bernie Sanders dress like that? Because he can," which went long on Sander's signature slouchy style, complete with ripples, wrinkles and creases.
"Sanders, for president, has an almost Einsteinian nebula of white hair and is prone to wearing suits that look as if he pressed them under a mattress," the Post's Paul Farhi wrote. "His clothes seem to hang on him, as if he borrowed them from another man's closet."
There's really no arguing that. In fact, that kinda goes for Trump as well.
"I just think that these guys don't even care," Ferber said. "That's the problem. In Sweden, there's this saying, 'You can't teach old dogs to sit.' If they've been doing something for many years, they're not going to change."