TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With both presidential campaigns looking for a tailor-made solution to sew up the election, a top clothier to leading political figures has some advice for President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney: Add a little pizzazz to your professional but dull wardrobe.
“And please,” couturier Arron Gober advises, “learn how to dress for a casual crowd without looking like you’re headed to a home improvement store.”
“Ouch! Men who work 18-hour days don’t have time to shop for casual clothing, and with these candidates it shows. These are four hard-working guys, and they struggle with their casual wear. They just don’t know any better – with their big oversized ‘Mom’ pants, it looks like all four of them are headed to the Home Depot,” he says of Obama, Romney and running mates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.
Election Day isn’t until November 6, but Americans can cast their vote now on which candidate is the sharpest dresser by going to www.fashiondebate2012.com. The site lets “voters” compare the candidates, click on different pieces of clothing to read Gober’s brief insights into their specific wardrobe choices and post comments.
While Gober has his sharpest needles for the candidates’ casual wear, he says the presidential candidates and (thanks to a little help for one) their running mates are the epitome of corporate cool, rarely making bold sartorial statements but consistently dressing in a way that suggests they’re comfortable with themselves – so the voters should be comfortable with them.
“Dressing well for success should know no partisan divide,” says Gober, custom clothier to top corporate and political executives in Florida and the Southeast. “Take your pick of any one of the four – they’re not trying to be too flashy.”
Gober’s snapshot assessment of Obama and Romney is that both men understand the value of the image they present, but they don’t want to spend very much time or effort thinking about it. With weightier matters to focus on, their wardrobe choices lean toward Professional Unimaginative. Gober says Romney wins the solo dress-for-success competition over Obama, but when you add in their running mates the incumbent ticket is the better-garbed team.
Gober, who has more than 32 years of experience in fine men’s clothing, has served as a personal tailor to three of Florida’s last four governors and two United States senators. He is the authority behind Your Personal Tailor in Tallahassee, the seat of power in the nation’s largest swing state.
The expert analysis of campaign couture was commissioned by Ron Sachs Communications, Florida’s leading public affairs communications firm, which works to build public and opinion leader support for issues of local, state and regional importance. Ron Sachs Communications is ranked among the top public relations firms in Florida and the top 100 in the nation.
“It’s true that the clothes may not make the man, but they can certainly tell a story about how the candidates see themselves and how they present that image to the rest of the world,” said Ron Sachs, founder and president of Ron Sachs Communications. “Arron Gober’s insights tell us a lot about what the candidates think of themselves and of us.”
Gone are the days when the most notable thing about a presidential candidate’s attire was a hole worn in the sole of his shoe, which Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson claimed as proof he was a frugal “everyman” who could relate to voters in 1952. In today’s campaign world, the candidates have advisers to keep them from committing such a fashion faux pas.
Presidential candidates now prefer caution, he observes: “Men tend to wear white dress shirts because they know it’s always right. They always take the safest route: dark boring suits.”
Gober sighs at the candidates’ selection of casual attire. When dressing down, Obama looks like “one of us” – “He knows how to do it, but he generally doesn’t do it.” – while Romney “is trying to be a man of the people, but instead looks like someone trying to look like a man of the people.” Gober shakes his head and sighs while scrutinizing photos of Romney in “mom jeans” and Obama in an oversized jacket, too-short khaki slacks that look like he’s ready for “high water” and dress shoes.
Of course, the fabric of the campaign is really about which man will be dressing for the Oval Office more than for Camp David, so here are Arron Gober’s observations for America’s Top (Presidential) Model:
Business Professional: “Very well dressed, nicely tailored. He tends toward an American custom-made suit and it shows. Perfect sleeve length showing just a hint of shirt cuff, side-vented suit jackets that slenderize a well-formed physique, nice break on the flat front slacks. Black lace-up shoes are perfectly coordinated for this nattily attired President. One quick note to the First Lady: Mrs. Obama, please please PLEASE use your outstanding taste in color to purchase your husband some neckwear. As with all the candidates, his ties look way too traditional and boring!”
Campaign Casual: “He seems to think ‘casual’ means just take off your suit coat and roll up your sleeves. He needs work in his casual appearance, as do most men. I would prefer to see him in an updated gingham checked shirt, or perhaps the American classic look of navy blazer with traditional dress khakis.”
Business Professional: “A man who has been in the boardroom as much as Mr. Romney absolutely knows how to wear a suit. Impeccably tailored two-button look, with functional buttons on the sleeves, and spot-on coloring. A touch of shirtsleeve cuff would be appropriate. With his crisp white modified spread collar and light blue tie, you simply won’t out-dress this custom-tailored gentleman. He’s been in every board room in America, and he looks and dresses like it.”
Campaign Casual: “His casual outfits are appropriate, khaki pants and well-tailored checked shirts. When he resorts to the ‘rolled-up-sleeve’ look with dress shirts, he doesn’t convey the same sense of well-worn comfort clothes. Even when he dressed down, Governor Romney looks more suited to the board room than the play room. And stay away from the mom jeans!”
As for running mates, Gober says Vice President Biden comes out well ahead of Congressman Ryan. Biden benefits from his 30-plus years in the Land of the Peacocks (Washington), while at first Ryan needed – and apparently received – a fashion intervention. Ryan appears to dress “off the rack,” Gober says, and in the earliest days of his vice presidential campaign his clothes seemed to hang off his youthful frame. His garments now fit better and show off his well-documented athleticism, so Ryan is less a style drain on the GOP ticket than he used to be.
Historians note that few people base their presidential votes on the running mates, so the real contest is between President Obama and Governor Romney. And when it comes to their clothing style, Gober says, American voters really can’t go wrong.
“I can’t predict how the election is going to turn out,” Gober says, “but either way we’re going to have a well-dressed President.”