Fashion & Politics – Analyzing Obama’s Successful Fashion Strategy

The successful campaign of President Elect Barack Obama has just written a landmark page in the history of the United States. Undoubtedly, and admittedly, Mr. Obama’s election was greatly due to a masterful campaign plan. Is it possible that even his fashion choices and statements about his wardrobe were part of that plan? The answer is quite possibly, “Yes”.

In all the controversy over fashion in the recent presidential race, two things about Obama’s attire were notably emphasized by the press: his preference for wearing his suits with an open collar and without a tie, and his statement that he normally buys five of the same suit and wears them repeatedly. Whether we can expect either of those habits to change when he takes his place in the White House remains to be seen, but let’s look for a moment at the strategic value of both of these items.

First, consider the claim that he builds his wardrobe on five different colored, but identical suits. Letting it be known that his suits were, in Mr. Obama’s own words, “fairly standard”, and that he typically bought five of the same suit, was in a word, brilliant. That simple statement helped to establish the candidate as a “regular guy” that we could identify with. Never mind that his suits are tailored, and that the price tag for each is in the neighborhood of $ 1,500.00. In fairness, that isn’t an overwhelmingly exorbitant price, but in these tough economic times, $ 7,500.00 for five suits isn’t a drop in the bucket for many of us. Nevertheless, the impact of the statement itself appears to have been positive.

Second, let’s examine wearing the suit without the necktie. From the outset of his campaign, then Senator Obama needed to connect with as many factions of the American public as possible. The presentation of a clean-cut, well-dressed African American personality was well planned and perfectly executed. In repeatedly appearing without the tie, another important connection was made, to the younger voters. Sadly, even in professional fields, today’s young adults often tend to consider men’s neckties a fashion accessory rather than a requirement. The record turnout of young voters in this election confirms how successfully Mr. Obama connected with young Americans.

Let the reader understand that I am in no way claiming that Mr. Obama’s attire was the deciding factor for any voter, nor that there was any attempt made to mislead voters. My point is that fashion has a profound impact in the way we’re perceived, and that the President Elect’s campaign managers used this to his advantage wisely. I am confident that when our new President is involved in publicly representing our country, we will see a silk tie neatly and properly tied around his collar, as befits our Nation’s leader.