In the wake of a triumphant (or tragic, depending on your level of sanity) presidential election, I realize it’s a bit odd to come back with a piece about a figure(head) from across the pond, but the more I look at photos of our president and politicians that flank him, the more I think about how as the years go on the group of “well-dressed” leaders gets smaller and smaller. And then there’s Prince Charles. While each new crop of politicians from across the globe seem to be worse dressed than the last, Prince Charles endures as the best dressed politician in the world (despite the fact that the Royal family doesn’t exercise any power anymore, but that’s beside the point.) Much like his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfathered in title, Charles was born into the dominant British style that stretches from the bespoke suits of Savile Row to the tweeds and barn jackets of the countryside. During his younger years Charles’ style was more reserved, mainly leaning toward three button jackets in subtle patterns such as grey nailheads. Yet it was during his late twenties and thirties that Charles began wearing double breasted jackets almost exclusively, a testament to the more prominent tailoring style of Savile Row.
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy stepped up to the mic to deliver his inaugural address and created the great menswear myth. As the story goes, JFK’s decision to address the crowd without a hat on his head delivered a fatal blow to the hat industry as American men followed his lead and shed the once obligatory hat. Is the story romantic? Sure. Is it true? Well, probably not. But, there’s no denying that an inauguration is a time for the president to make a statement. As a President that often remarks how he doesn’t even know what jacket he’s wearing, Obama has never been a paragon of style, but as he ushers in a new term, it provides him with the rare chance to prove just what clothes can mean. A return to American innovation and production would do this country some good, and what better way to show support for this country’s up-and-coming and established designers than to wear them proudly to start off four more years.
I realize it’s quite a cliche to start off a week about politics by writing on America’s most storied first family, a clan that includes some of the most revered (and written about) style icons of all time, but truth be told it’s still the Kennedy’s and the precedents they set that sit as the benchmark for how all politicians present themselves today. Watching the debates leading up to this year’s election, it was difficult for me to ignore each candidate’s respective appearance. Issues and substance are always paramount in politics (or at least they should be), but there must be a foundation to build all of this upon otherwise all we have is a series of pandering talking heads.