Style Profile: The Obama Effect

President Obama’s sense of style is back on the front burner – at least in DC.

The Washington Examiner newspaper recently noted a fashion trend among the influential and political. They want to look like Barrack Obama. More specifically, they want to dress like him.

While the classic dark two-button suit is about as de rigueur as you can get in the Nation’s Capitol, many men don’t seem to do it very well. Those who do tend to retain the services of a custom tailor and it is these gentlemen who are spilling the beans. Tony and powerful clients, from A-list lobbyists to committee chairs, ambassadors to diplomats, all seem to be heading in the same sartorial direction. And that path leads to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

According to Anthony Asaf of Empire International Custom Tailors, many of his political clients are asking for slimmer suits, trim pant legs and a more natural shoulder with less padding. Asaf, who regularly travels to Washington from Hong Kong and whose suits can run north of $4,000, says that Obama’s influence is being felt more and more in the fitting room.

One reason that President Obama is having such an impact on the suited world is that unlike many of us, he always seems to look good in a suit. Yes, they tend to be conservative, dark, two-button suits paired with white shirts and reassuring ties. But that is to be expected. He is, after all, the President of the United States and it is incumbent on him to project a solid and secure image. But what gets the attention is how Obama wears his suits; and the key there is that they fit well and they fit his body type.

Just by addressing these two factors, fit and body type, most men could improve their appearance ten-fold. One of the classic keys to looking good is knowing your body type and buying clothes that flatter your real body – not the one you wish or think you have. This is true for men of all shapes and sizes. Last year I wrote a column about one the country’s top stores for shorter men in which this exact issue was addressed.

The president is tall, over six feet, and in excellent shape. As he tends to opt for cardiovascular workouts, basketball for example, he is lean rather than bulky. His suits therefore have longer and narrower proportions. However, they do not cling to him – they are cut to provide a degree of movement and form that also balance his height and avoid a skinny, gangly appearance. The result is the now familiar trim and slightly athletic silhouette.

The president’s classic two-button jackets are proportionally tailored to match the longer scale of his torso – proper scale being a benefit of custom suiting that any man would appreciate. Men with similar physiques should also avoid suits that are too tight or overly fitted as they can accentuate the wearer’s skinny frame. What makes the president’s suits look so good on him is that they are fitted but not too much so.

His trousers have a trimness that still allows for fluid movement while avoiding a stick figure effect. They also tend to incorporate a generous break which provides the visual reference of grounding his legs. If he wore them with little or no break, attention would be drawn to the leg and likely give the impression of wearing “high waters”. He also appears to favor a slight tapering on the pant leg which also deemphasizes the leg’s “swing” – another problem faced by men with longer legs.

On a more philosophical level, Obama’s clothes match his persona. The clean and elegant lines of his suits, and frankly his casual wear, blend naturally with his overall demeanor.

Mr. Obama has a unique style that is new to the White House. This president is urban and urbane, intellectual and in a way quite professorial; but he is not bookish per se. Still new to the job, he is young but not immature and though he possesses echoes of John F. Kennedy’s “new vigah”, it is (to me) without any blatant imitation.

His pared down but detailed wardrobe reflects these traits. Verging on monochromatic though still fresh, elegant but sparing; his clothes reflect well on the man in a simple and straightforward manner.

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1 Response » to “Style Profile: The Obama Effect”

  1. Mohsin Ali says:

    I like his shirt style!
    Open Cuffs!

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