Why Do GOP Presidential Candidates Dress Like Total Schlubs?

There’s really not much more to presidential fashion that suits and ties, but when it comes to presidential candidates, it’s a whole other story. By and large, the field of Republicans jockeying for Barack Obama‘s job have abandoned formality in an attempt to send a political message.

Take a closer look at the campaign stops, the rallies and other various appearances and you might notice that everyone from billionaire-ambassador Jon Huntsman to physician-congressman Ron Paul has been dressing down — and we mean way down. The Wall Street Journal reports that Instead of the swath of Brooks Brothers suits and J.Press ties we’d expect to see on the backs of men of their ilk (and considerable wealth), we’re seeing the rolled ups sleeves of flannel shirts, jean jackets, and worst of all, dad jeans.

It’s all because the candidates want to distance themselves from their beginnings (well, most of them — Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually worked for a living on his way to political fame, so he can get away with wearing a suit) in order to connect with people who don’t have the same advantages or bank accounts as they do. After all, it’s those people who make up the bulk of the country, so the more relatable these guys seem, the better.

Or at least that’s what they think. As far as the fashion industry is concerned, dressing down can make these guys look like fools. Esquire wrote a post about Mitt Romney‘s sartorial choices entitled “Mitt Romney’s New Strategy: Stop Dressing Well.”

You’d think that these guys would be able to pull off slightly better looks, considering that they’re styled just as intensely as any of Rachel Zoe‘s clients. Per the Journal:

Looking thrown-together is anything but seat-of-the-pants for a potential president. Washington haberdashers counsel politicians to wear dress shirts, which have smaller armholes, instead of shirts made for casual wear, which can look baggy. Sleeves should be rolled to above the elbow, not the middle of the forearm. One button should be left open, not two.

But maybe those rules are the problem, and not the solution. Maybe the candidates should stick to what they know. That strategy seems to be working for the sole woman in the race, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who always looks like she’s getting ready to head into a boardroom because she means business.

But they candidates won’t determine who wins the race. You will. So does what they wear actually matter? Would you prefer it if the guys in the race suited up, or does their inelegance actually help get their message across?


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