Is Paul Ryan’s Style Really That Bad? (Plus: Bonus Shirtless Pic!)

The general consensus among the fashion insiders is that Paul Ryan has terrible style. Style “experts” everywhere are clicking their tongues and lamenting the fact that Mitt Romney‘s VP pick forgoes tailored suits for his “Dad’s suit”, that he never wears a tie, and that his square-toed shoes are, well, square-toed. But is his style truly that bad, or are they just too critical?

Esquire‘s style and grooming editor Kurt Soller has many strong feelings about Ryan’s wardrobe. He says Ryan wears “trash-bag black suit[s]” and that there’s “something linebacker-like about those shoulders”, which is not a good thing unless you really are a linebacker. Soller is even offended by Ryan’s lack of a tie, which the rep seems determined not to wear. He likes to leave a button or two open, and air out his neck.

Cathy Horyn of The New York Times says Ryan appeared to be “swimming in his coat” when he was announced as Romney’s veep candidate this past weekend. She went straight to her buddy Bruce Pask at T magazine, who posits:

“Like many American suit wearers, I think he suffers from the misconception that the size a guy wears directly correlates with his masculinity. In their minds, being a 42 is more manly than a 40. And yet what actually happens when a guy wears something too big is the obvious: he looks smaller, dwarfed by shoulders that are too big, a shirt collar that is too roomy, lapels that are too wide. A suit should properly contain the body. It’s a very empowering thing to wear a jacket that hugs the torso, a shape that you fill completely and appropriately.”

Who knew there was so much psychology behind a single suit? But we are in complete agreement with Pask in that a suit should fit the man. Especially now that TMZ has uncovered this shirtless photo of the cut politico — why hide those abs under all that extra fabric?. Some more figure-flattering clothes would definitely be welcomed.

And that’s not all. The sharp eyes over at Women’s Wear Daily dissected Ryan’s attire in their “Man of the Week” article, and graded him a big, fat “C”. The reasons are similar to what Soller, Horyn, and Pask have said — Ryan’s suits need tailoring, his pants are baggy, and his square-toed shoes are “one of the most grievous mistakes a man can make”. Ouch.

But The Washington Post‘s Katherine Boyle thinks Ryan’s style offsets Romney’s. It’s quite the backhanded compliment, but one that can’t be ruled out in the game of politics:

“Perhaps his raw, slightly unkempt suit balances out Romney’s snazzier, controlled appearance. Ryan’s Midwestern sensibilities and baggy pants may appeal to swing voters who think cuff links are wasteful expenditures. The man believes in trimming budgets, not pant legs.”

We completely agree that he could use a tailor, but so could most other wonks. (Have you been to D.C. lately?) As ill-fitting and baggy as Ryan’s shirts and suits are, it could also be read a savvy move on his part to seem one with the average American man’s style — which is sadly subpar. But will his clothes actually come into play when it comes down to crunch time? That’s to be seen. In the meantime, checked shirts with oversized jeans certainly aren’t doing him any favors.

See what all the fuss is about below.

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