Berkeley Today Stories
Five Presidential Candidates Take the Lead
By Diane Maglio, Professor, Fashion Merchandising and Management, Larry L. Luing School of Business
Dressed in navy blue worsted suits peppered with a bold dash of color in his ties, Donald Trump exudes the aura of a Chief Executive Officer, which, in fact, he is. As the candidate most closely associated with the fashion industry through his licensed line of men’s clothing and accessories, he earned the title of “one of the most trusted fashion names in America,” in 2005. He defuses the formality projected by his dark suits by leaving his coat unbuttoned and so projects an easy security with leadership.
Striped ties with loose fitting suits in TV debates and plaid flannel shirts on the campaign circuit give Ted Cruz the appearance of a man reflecting the appearance of average Americans. When Jimmy Carter attempted the “man of the people” he was unsuccessful in winning respect as leader of all Americans.
Marco Rubio garnered unexpected attention when he wore a pair of black polished boots with higher than average heels, giving naysayers an opportunity to question his masculinity. Opting for Ralph Lauren zip pullover sweaters with shirts and ties rather than a more formal coat, Rubio offers a preppy image associated with youth.
Dull gray worsted suits draped from sloping shoulders that appear to be carrying the weight of unfair practices for working class people give Bernie Sanders the image he earned. Issues matter, suits don’t, and Sanders marches to his own beat.
Welcoming females into the supreme position of Commander-in-Chief posed a problem in image and perception for women. Hillary Clinton stepped into the race for top executive wearing feminine pants suits in optimistic colors. She consistently maintained this image since her first run for president in 2008, and it has served her well. In fact, her sartorial look has become iconic. Leaving critics behind, she focuses on her vision for the country, rather than obsess about her vision in the mirror.