Speaking Point: President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have more than their party affiliation and political issues that set them apart. Their visual appearance, mode of dress, and body language reinforces their differences…loud and clear.
This is not a political endorsement of either candidate. This is solely a commentary from my Image Consulting viewpoint of how our presidential candidates of 2012 are dressing themselves to enhance their political image and how that may impact their campaigns.
For most Americans, appearance is often times more an afterthought than a planned strategy. I would venture to say that on the campaign trail, no nuance of a candidate’s image is left to chance!
Let’s think about each candidates’ visual appearance and see how it reinforces their message.
Speaking Point: President Obama dresses in a trim and efficient manner that positions him as a “populist” president. He dresses in modern simple suits, basic white shirts and solid or striped ties that deflect from what some people perceive as his elitist tendency. Although he is a millionaire, he tries not to look like one. His appearance is one of a fairly successful middle class intellectual. His suits are nice, but nothing special. President Obama opts for soft shoulder lines, medium lapels, and nondescript fabrics that make him look like a team player. Obama’s suits are what most businessmen in middle management would wear. His silk ties are simple. His dress shirts have a conservative collar shape that makes no particular fashion statement.
Speaking Point: His casual dress on the campaign trail goes down a big notch as he visits factories and tries to look like the voters he is hoping to entice. When he was elected, Time Magazine ran a picture of Obama at his desk, with large holes in his soles, while he was making over a million dollars on his book sales alone. Interesting mixed message, wasn’t it? Overall, President Obama’s image used to look fresh like “hope and change”. To me, now it looks like more of the same, uninspiring. Dare I say that he has a hint of socialistic style? Almost like a uniform that always looks the same.
Speaking Point: Governor Romney on the other hand, dresses like a wealthy, conservative, and successful executive. While not quite as elegant in dress or demeanor as President Reagan or as dapper as Rep. John Boehner, he exhibits a handsome elegance that hasn’t been seen on the campaign trail for quite a while. One knows at a glance that Romney is a very wealthy businessman. He chooses what appears to be custom made suits, exquisitely tailored, in unique shades of blues and grays. His shirts are elegant and his ties wreak class. Romney’s suits have a strong Italian looking shoulder line, which accentuates his physique and gives him an aura of power. In a time, when people are hungry for jobs, power and success is something to admire and emulate.
Speaking Point: Romney’s appearance appeals to business people and people with money. When you have money, you don’t like to lose it. Romney looks like he has mastered the corporate world and his image enhances his message of wealth and power. Oh, did I remember to mention his graying at the temples that looks so elegant? If Romney tints his hair, leaving a touch of grey is brilliant. Romney’s dress smacks of money and lots of it. Isn’t that why so many Americans bust their ass and have no life because they are chasing the “American Dream” (of all work, little vaca, and no play)? So what’s wrong with someone looking like that?
Speaking Point: Sadly, both candidates dress way down when they are visiting blue- collar areas. This makes me cringe when either candidate dresses down, as it seems so obviously planned and forced. A president or a presidential contender should look presidential 24/7. No ifs, ands, or buts! And if they are going to wear denims they need them to fit properly, be stylish and in a dark color. Dockers and flannel plaid shirts are the worst offenders! Seriously, I think Pres Obama and Mitt Romney look awful campaigning in casual clothing, especially because neither one wears casual clothing in the right way. Didn’t either of them hear about “casual elegant”? It would behoove them to find out.
Speaking Point: Yes, it’s smart for them both to dress more approachably at times, but not in a way that takes away all of their panache and power! Personally, I believe our country has had more than enough casual dress abuses to last a millennium. What we need is our leader to inspire us to take our appearance up a big notch!
Speaking Point: So what grade would I give both candidates for dressing well? I would give them both an A in the business dress/suit category for having an image that mirrors their message. In the casual dress arena, President Obama would get a C minus and Gov Romney would get a B minus.
Speaking Point: For both candidates, their appearance is consistent with the voters they are looking to attract. Capitalism or socialism? Isn’t that the real question? Michele Obama’s message is entirely different. She loves fashion like the best of us capitalist babes!!