Fashion Whip is a political style column in the Huffington Post by Lauren A. Rothman, inspired by Lauren's experience as the founder of StyleAuteur, a style and fashion consulting firm.
Does what the President wears on the campaign trail make a political statement? When he visits your hometown, shakes your hand, or kisses a baby will it matter if he's dressed in a suit or a North Face fleece? Democrat or Republican, the public style statement is important to both parties.
With three weeks left on the campaign trail, President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney still have many fashion statements - or faux pas - to make. POTUS has been spotted in mandals and Romney's been sporting "dad" jeans so faded they look like an ancient relic. While these leading men have mastered debate dress, they could still use some work in the casual wear category.
Like most of my clients, Obama and Romney focus first on career wear. Both men have trim physiques, are physically fit, and know how to wear the presidential uniform well: navy suit, crisp white shirt with a point collar, a red or blue tie, and a flag pin. This far along in the campaign process, they stay away from anything trendy and are very aware of dressing too rich, avoiding high-end accessories like pocket squares, cuff links, or tie pins.
However, the time has come for a style intervention on the casual front. The next three weeks have these men, as well as other political leaders, pounding the pavement around the country and campaigning - many of whom have been criticized for their lack of style outside the Capitol building. Casual attire must be updated to appear comfortable, modern, and fit for a president.
Follow these last minute wardrobe changes and start shaking hands in style:
1. Wear darker jeans. What you wear makes an impact - your jeans can be from the Gap or Neiman Marcus but jump into this decade with "dressy," more fitted jeans. Many business casual offices allow denim on Fridays -follow this dress code with a dark wash and stay away from whiskering, overly faded, acid washed or ripped jeans.
2. Lose the fleece. Instead, add sweaters to your repotoire. Cashmere or wool it doesn't matter. But, pairing a fleece with dress pants looks awkward - like you're trying too hard to be casual at work. Sweaters do a nice job at dressing up jeans and dressing down khakis or dress pants. Make a lightweight half-zip sweater your new best friend. A nice wool blazer matches nicely for extra warmth instead of the cheesy "Members Only" windbreaker. Allow your style to become predictable in a good way.
3. Buy better shoes. Sneakers and sandals are not allowed. Just like nice hotel lobbies. Opt for loafers or lace ups with rubber soles - they move from day to night, and from jeans to dress pants effortlessly.
Happy campaigning and wishing you luck!
Check out these politicians in their casual-Friday garb!