President Obama may look sharp in a suit, but when it comes to jeans, he has committed a cardinal fashion crime
The Guardian, Thursday 23 July 2009
Barack Obama dresses down - but does he do it correctly? Photograph: Mark Cunningham/Getty Images North America
Barack Obama has committed a cardinal fashion crime: he has worn bad jeans. Teamed with a sporty, zippy jacket and trainers, the offending items appeared in an outfit he wore this month at the All-Star baseball game in St Louis. Ever since, said jeans have been under attack: too short, too wide, too high-waisted. In the US, they've even been dubbed "mom jeans" – not, presumably, an appropriate category for a handsome president to be seen in. Speaking of this denim debacle on NBC's Today show, Obama said, "Michelle – she looks fabulous. I'm a little frumpy."
Mrs O has talked before about how her husband doesn't really "get" fashion, which, let's be honest, is fine. After all, he might have better things to worry about than the depth of his jeans crotch.
Yet in more formal settings, Obama's style has been appealing in its simplicity: suits cut in a classic shape to emphasise his athletic frame, no fashion trickery required. His killer move was the rolling up of sleeves, which immediately made him seem modern and believable. But the off-duty wardrobe has been an uphill struggle. He favours dark polo shirts, which can be perfectly acceptable but, on him, always seem a tad too big and billowy of sleeve. Tucking them into chinos is fine in theory, but they then bag unflatteringly about his middle. Like the iffy jeans, his trouser choices can veer toward ill-fitting, particularly when they flap around the ankles. His accessorising is hit and miss: classic belts – nice; baseball caps – oh dear.
But it's the shoes – a catalogue of errors – where things need serious attention. Wearing jogger-style trainers with jeans is messy. Worse still, on a trip to Egypt, he wore a shoe-trainer hybrid, the naffest shoe style ever created, with cotton slacks. His adoption of a pair of man-sandals recently at least showed adventurousness, but even this didn't quite work.
Obama explained that the much-derided baseball-match jeans were chosen because they were "comfortable", adding that "for those of you who want your president to look great in his tight jeans, I'm sorry, but I'm not the guy". Well, thank God. The idea of Obama Shoreditching it up is frankly worse than the jeans he wore to the baseball game in the first place