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The Journal

The Basics of Presidential Style

For most of political history, heads of state have been bound by codes of formal fashion – they dressed as the styles of the times dictated, never straying too far from the norm. In some places, that meant rocking robes and wigs. In others, tuxedoes and top hats were in vogue. However, a few leaders have had the courage to rock the boat, and this President’s Day, we want to salute some fashion-forward men who stood out from the crowd.

John F. Kennedy

US President 1961-1963

The impact of JFK’s immaculate style started even before he was elected president. In 1960 when he debated Richard Nixon on live TV, his fresh style and relatable manner earned him serious points with the public – so much so that while those who listened on the radio largely agreed that Nixon won, TV viewers saw Kennedy as the winner. But his fashion statements didn’t end there – he was the first president to be inaugurated sans top hat, and his tailored suits set a high bar for presidential fashion.

The real coup of Kennedy’s style was in his casual wear, though. He was one of the first presidents photographed not wearing formal attire, and the shots of him relaxing in chinos and crew neck sweaters brought the Ivy League preppy style to the forefront of fashion for the years to come.

Pierre Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada 1968-1984

America’s far from the only country that boasts leaders with style. Ask any Canadian who the most stylish head of state is and they’ll answer without hesitation: Pierre Trudeau. The father of the current Prime Minister, Pierre was known for bold fashion choices, which included ostentatious silk handkerchiefs, floor-length fur coats, and even magician-style capes. While most Canadians loved their flashy PM, some seemed to think he looked “more like a pimp than a prime minister.” Luckily, Trudeau also knew how to tone it down in more official capacities, though he still liked to wear red roses on his many tailored suits.

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