Presidential Style: Donald Trump

Donald J. Trump has been a controversial figure to say the least, from the way his campaign was run to how things are currently shaping up in the White House. On the other hand, his clothing is hardly controversial, but until recently it wasn't too good either. GQ recently gave their attempt at a makeover, but apart from the grooming and skincare improvements I didn't find myself in agreement. They didn't take his body type or position as POTUS into consideration. Overall, what they suggested clothing-wise would be better suited for a young executive at an insurance firm rather than a 70 year old man who runs the country.

A slim fit suit and narrow tie would not suit his body type. Additionally, a brown tie and tie bar do not look very presidential.

His presidential campaign suits had the same problems many politicians' do. The jacket is simply too big in the shoulders and sleeves, which visually shortens his hands. Furthermore, he chooses to wear a belt when a pair of braces would keep the trousers up at his waist all day. Often, they tend to sag since most of his weight is carried around the abdomen. They are also far too wide, making his considerable size 12 shoes appear tiny. The overall fit contributes to making him appear shorter and wider than he actually is; less powerful in other words. Add to that, most of the always-navy suits have a very lightweight fabric with a shiny finish... and lots of wrinkles. Perhaps he believes this looks and feels rich, but in combination with poor fit it simply looks cheap. I give due respect in that he wears a trouser rise long enough for his build. Many celebrities wear trendy, low rise trousers regardless of whether it looks good on them.

The last debate between Clinton and Trump. This is one of the few times he buttons his jacket while standing.

Trump's clothier of choice has mostly been Brioni, a longtime luxury suit maker based in Italy. He is also a noted customer of Martin Greenfield, a Czech-American tailor in New York City who has dressed U.S. Presidents starting with Dwight Eisenhower. His suits have been said to be bespoke. One would wonder why something made specifically for the wearer would have the fit problems they do, but sometimes clients ask to have things made a certain way against the expertise of the tailor. Perhaps Trump thinks the looser fit disguises his figure, but this is far from the truth. Portly men actually need suits that follow their body. Not necessarily slim fit following the body, just well fitting in general. A suit that is too big only exacerbates any perceived flaws. It has been suggested that he merely attempts to look like an everyman. But considering many other politicians and civilians alike make the same mistakes, including Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders, one can simply assume that they don't know any better.

Many have already criticized him for the way he wears his ties too long, well past the waistband instead of terminating there as is custom. A candid picture of his windblown tie revealed that he uses ordinary Scotch tape to secure the smaller end, since it is not long enough to fit into the keeper loop. Sloppy all around. Maybe someone can introduce him to The Tie Thing? (If they do, please let me know the results of the attempt.) He should probably be wearing extra long ties at 6'2 with a large neck. If he already does, this blunder is even less excusable. He chooses a Windsor knot, yet it is not very substantial due to being knotted where the tie is narrowest. However, his always-white shirts appear to fit properly and the cufflinks are not garish. It's too bad his jacket sleeves go to the thumb half the time and completely obscure the double cuffs. Regardless of their style, shirt cuffs should show about a quarter to half inch below the jacket sleeve to coordinate with the exposed shirt above. It has the added benefit of reducing wear on the jacket sleeve ends, since shirt cuffs are easier to replace and cheaper. Trump's choice of two button jacket with double vents is a sound one that will work for anyone in any setting, so he knows what he is doing in that regard. He sometimes appears to wear single reverse pleats with cuffed bottoms, other times flat front with plain bottoms. Those details are up to the preference of the individual but pleats will give more ease of movement.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert pokes fun at Donald Trump's ties during the inauguration day episode.

Unfortunately, it seems that some people are looking to emulate Donald Trump's entire look without critical examination. Some even believe that the more expensive something is, the better it must be. This is not necessarily true. A few articles have already been published regarding his patronage of Brioni, but relatively few examine the fact that expensively dressed doesn't always equal well dressed. Brioni suits start in the thousands for a ready-made two piece and only go up the more luxurious the fabric is. "Luxurious" being a subjective term past a certain point, because finer or more delicate fabrics do not wear as well as regular worsted wool weaves. Politicians should generally avoid anything too flashy as it distracts from the message they are trying to send. A fabric can look cheap, like a synthetic, if it has a high sheen or outright shine. Cashmere, silk, and mohair blended with wool can look tasteful if well chosen, though these are not the best picks of suiting for a politician either.

However ill-advised the fabric content of his suitings may be, solid navy is a solid choice. Presidential hopefuls frequently wear this suit color along with red ties and white shirts because of the patriotic image they convey. Navy is also considered more of a "power" color for business suits, since it is bolder looking than any shade of grey can be. The frequently worn, notoriously bright red tie manages to look tacky in comparison. Satin ties should be approached carefully when it comes to business suits. In vibrant colors they can frequently look low-end no matter how pricey they actually are. Dark red would help him look more distinguished. Even better would be a texture such as grenadine or other bi-color basket weaves. He does occasionally wear a light blue, red/white striped, or blue/white striped tie which improve things a bit. At times, especially earlier in his campaign, even pale pink or yellow were worn. These do not strike as good a contrast against white shirts or connote authority as efficiently, so he was correct in jumping to the trusty reds and blues later.

In all cases, one will look better dressed, perhaps wealthier, wearing a properly fitting $500 suit than someone wearing a badly fitting $5,000 suit. A well chosen tie, tasteful cufflinks, and well polished shoes will also distinguish the wearer from those who simply let money and flashiness over substance guide their purchases.

When I heard that he would be using the services of an American made to measure clothier, I held a small glimmer of hope. Perhaps they could bring him to the light of good fit. The word is that he is now being dressed by Brooks Brothers' made to measure department, likely the Golden Fleece quality level, since unlike Brioni they are an American company and much of their production is now in the USA. It's unclear why he didn't go back to Martin Greenfield if he wished to put his promise of buying American into action, but no reason has been given as yet. Interestingly, he initially believed that Brooks Brothers had moved all production overseas but was corrected in an interview with George Stephanopoulos. He may have gotten the idea there. Not to mention, Brooks has a long, storied history of dressing American Presidents dating back to Abraham Lincoln. It is unclear where his ties, shirts, cufflinks, and shoes are made, but he has claimed in the past to wear some pieces from his own clothing brand, the Donald J. Trump Collection.

The jacket fit is much improved but he does not reap the full benefits wearing it open.

The result is competent if not stupendous. Thankfully, the unsightly reflective fabrics have given way to more ordinary worsted wool. From what we can see in his White House interview with David Muir, the jacket fit is improved. The shoulders no longer appear too wide and droopy, the jacket has lost some excess fabric, and judging by the sliver of shirt cuff the sleeves actually look like they're the proper length. For reasons unknown, Trump wears both his dark navy overcoat (likely the BrooksStorm Westbury model) and jacket open for most of the inaugural proceedings, a gaffe son Eric Trump also committed. This is perhaps a habit he's had for a while, seen with jacket unbuttoned quite often, but it's unfortunate that he continues it even while being sworn in. More odd is that in the aforementioned interview, Donald chooses to button his jacket sitting down but once again leaves it to flap about during his walk around the courtyard with Muir. A better practice is doing the opposite, if anything, but one can leave their single breasted jacket buttoned all day if desired. (If tailor Edward Sexton gets his wish of dressing him in double breasted suits, those must remain fastened.) Former President Obama has a leg up by always keeping his suit buttoned when standing. To be fair though, Barack's sleeves are still too long after eight years.

Trump would have looked far more commanding of respect had he kept his jacket, let alone his overcoat closed.

Braces are still absent from his daily wardrobe so the trousers sag a bit once more, though not quite as much as before. The long rise is fortunately still present and looks better than if he were wearing lower rise trousers. The overall fit is improved, with legs tapering more gracefully towards the shoe. In other words, they no longer look huge by 1940s standards. Donald has opted for reverse pleats and cuffs this time, rather than plain in both areas. Pleats are a good choice for someone his body type since they expand while sitting and thus will not wrinkle as much. Forward pleats drape better and would be the superior choice, but Brooks Brothers no longer makes that style as they once did. The cuffs look slightly shallow for his height and could be increased by a quarter inch.

The Donald may have unknowingly taken a style cue from the last POTUS, since he has been seen with a folded, white linen pocket square recently. Obama occasionally wore this accoutrement during his second term, especially for black tie events. This may in turn have been influenced by Former Vice President Biden, who wore them even before their first term. Regardless, it is good to see pocket squares returning to presidential attire in the last few years. Past Presidents including John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan wore them, but they have been sparsely seen in the Oval Office since. White linen, folded to show just a small edge above the breast pocket opening, is a good way to add flair to a tailored ensemble without being too conspicuous. It has resurfaced as a popular look in menswear since the mid-2000s, alternately known as the Flat Fold and -- somewhat appropriately -- the Presidential Fold.

Trump wearing a simple flat folded pocket square while signing an executive order.

Regrettably, Trump still downgrades his look by knotting his ties too high up, leaving the blade to rest halfway down to his crotch. Even if his jacket was fastened, the tie would conspicuously hang below the waist button several inches.

I will not discuss the inaugural tuxedo in much length since it does not appear to be made by Brooks Brothers, lacking the fit refinements previously discussed. But at the very least, he appears to be wearing braces (since a belt is unforgivable with black tie) and a self-tied bow tie. Peak lapels have a good lengthening effect, but he should leave the cummerbund at home in favor of a low cut waistcoat next time. Cummerbunds do not look harmonious with anything besides shawl or notch lapels and can draw the eye towards a larger stomach.

The favorable benefits of a tailored jacket are lost when not fastened and those pants are yuge.

It would seem that with the guidance of Brooks Brothers' staff, President Donald Trump has gotten a wardrobe upgrade more in line with his declared wealth and status as Commander-in-Chief. If he could only fasten his jacket and knot his ties to an appropriate length, he would look even better. Whether his style will impact menswear in the United States as many previous Presidents have remains to be seen. We are already on the cusp of traditional fits and pleated trousers coming back into fashion. Perhaps his time in office will be the final push required.


  1. As GQ said it's too bad we can't tailor his personality. Your points are pretty good though. He'd do well to heed your advice but we all know he won't because he always knows best. *rolleyes*

    1. You libs can't criticize him on anything good so you resort to attacking the way he looks. Typical.

    2. Anon 1: Thank you.

      Anon 2: This wasn't meant to be political. My advice still stands.

    3. Really? Cause I don't see a post about Obama. And your little jokes are terrible.

    4. I got a lot of requests from friends to do this and the jokes were meant as a way to lighten things up.

      Obama has a number of problems with his clothing, notwithstanding the awful dad jeans. However, his ties are knotted to the correct length and better chosen. He also keeps his jacket buttoned. Until three years ago Obama wore a rather unremarkable two button notch tuxedo. His later choice of peak lapel single button was far better, like Trump's is. But the fit on Trump's is still poor, I think Brooks Brothers needs to knock out a new one for him. Regardless, Obama's so-called white tie to meet the Queen of England was pretty terrible. Attached spread collar, large fit, etc. I was hoping he'd get an upgrade there sometime during office but that never happened.

    5. Anon 2, ironic that you think criticizing the way he dresses isn't fair game when Trump has called people all sorts of mean things relating to their looks. Jovan was giving constructive crits, not engaging in name calling or body shaming. He's above the sort of pettiness the subject of this article regularly engages in.

  2. To the annoymous troller: I think most clothing stylist would agree that Obama did not need style advice. But Jovan did critique Obama's sleeve length. I dont know what litttle jokes you're referring to. I don't think you even bothered reading the article. Just trolling is my guess. Hope you're getting paid for it.

    1. I'm actually critical of more than that, but his regular suits were not total deal breakers. We have to remember that even if tailors will recommend showing cuff, sometimes the client will resist it and mistakenly think it's too flashy.

      His black tie attire was not very good for his first term and the white tie ensemble was downright awful along with his predecessor George W. Bush. Both of them had a penchant for wearing ordinary spread collar double cuff white shirts with them and the fit was pretty bad. Not sure why. Obama's suits are still on the fuller cut side, but they look like they were actually made for him. I think he'd do well with a little more waist suppression and straight cut trousers given how fit he is. But he seems like a pretty conservative guy (style wise, not politically) so I won't criticize that aspect too much.

  3. I like classic fits but man, his old suits looked fucking awful! That's too muchf or me and I like the golden era styles. I agree braces would be nice, but it seems like he's in denial about his age and shape. It's pretty sad that those, pleats, and side adjusters have gone out of fashion. Hope you're right about the pendulum swinging back soon!

    1. We'll see. I'd mostly like the wider lapels and ties to come back because it's been forever since we've seen anything more than 3.25". (But clothing that actually fits me would be nice too.) Fashion designers have attempted to bring back the styles you're talking about. I saw a pretty classic looking double breasted in a menswear trade publication. Can't remember the designer, I'm afraid. Even Tom Ford had some full cut forward pleat trousers a few years back. I don't think they were tapered too well, it just kind of looked wide all the way down. He did try, though!


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