Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

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Barack Obama challenges Washington's business-suit culture


Looks like Michelle Obama isn't the only one with an eye on fashion.

Barack Obama is shaking things up by challenging the supremacy of the business suit in the one town in America where a suit still equals power. According to several reports, casual Friday style is becoming everyday style in the Obama White House, with the president encouraging staffers to take off their jackets, even in the Oval Office. (Lord knows they have enough work to do; they need to get comfortable and roll up their sleeves, even though that won't do much to help suit sales.)

In an interview with Matt Lauer on "Today," Obama broke with the suit-and-tie uniform again and wore a casual button-down shirt sans tie. It was a Sunday afternoon and Obama was hanging at home before the Super Bowl, but it was yet another indicator of the dawn of a more relaxed Washington wardrobe.

Besides reflecting Obama's easygoing nature, the casual approach to dressing sets him apart visually from the corrupt "suits," the CEOs and Wall Street opportunists that he's trying to bring down to earth.

Do you think Obama's casual style is appropriate for the White House?

-- Booth Moore

Photo: President Obama, sans jacket, meets with National Security Advisor James Jones, center, in the Oval Office last month. Credit: EPA / Pete Souza

Comments () | Archives (22)

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The trappings of office can become the office itself. This then renders the actions of the office less visible. Hidden behind dark, stiff cloth, the office endures the most difficult times, do you see? But this is NOT how America works. Obama (bless him) is right to focus the office on production, on creating good effects for the people the office serves.

Excellent - put that stupid Victorian era dress code into the grave where it belongs. Our "business/government class" looks like they're at a funeral - which judging from their performance, they might as well be.

President Obama can wear a pink chenille bathrobe and bunny slippers on national television for all I care, if he can overcome the huge problems the Republicans have bequeathed to him.

He's disrespecting the office of president. But not only that..

Obama is wielding more power than the typical American president - with a great deal of congressional support and a will to overstep his boundaries and expand government control at every opportunity. Yet at the same time he's trying to squash the giant, powerful image that -should- be associated with his position...

All it is is more deception from Obama.

yes he's hot

Do I think it's appropriate??? You live in a free country don't you??? He can wear whatever he likes: if he wants to wear sandals and jeans, more power to him! On the day of the inauguration, his wife saw people standing outside the gates of the White House wishing that they could come in. You know what she said to the Secret Service agents on duty??? She said, "Let the people come in." And the Secret Service agents went and let the people come in.... to meet the President of the United States of America. With a wife and husband team like that occupying the White House, you have the temerity to question how the President chooses to dress??? Shame on you.

Perhaps the President should be setting an environmental example and wearing warmer suits and sweaters!.
Turn the thermostat down Barack and get comfortable. Although I must say that most of the white House furnishings look decidedly uncomfortable! Taking off jackets is not a problem, (Jimmy Carter went there before this).
Let's turn down the heating set a fashion example in many more ways than one! This planet's rapid environmental degradation is a real problem and needs to be taken seriously before it becomes so serious that it cannot be ignored or reversed!
The future will not judge us well - we as a species, or George Bush.

President Obama should set a really good example for the country and make the White House clothing-optional.

Small towels should of course be provided for the furniture...

I like the more casual approach to dress taken by Barack Obama; it reflects a more open and accepting attitude towards all people.

As long as people are doing the right jobs it is fine. I am sure President will not dress inappropriately, so if he is willing take off jacket with his people, then it is fine.

On weekends it is fine to have casual dressing as long it is not an official appearance whether suit is required.

I think appropriate dress for the White House should be suits and ties for men. I also believe in school uniforms in cases where appropriate. Professional dress encourages professional conduct, language, respect and fosters a sense of authority. I really don't want to see any "Joe Six Packs" in the White House.

I think it's just fine. There is enough on everyone's mind and plenty of work to do without worrying whether or not you look good. No one needs to wear a suit to do a good job...

Banks are failling due to their greed and mismanagement and lack of regulation.
Time to nationalize the banks and bring accountability to the system. If you think that seems like a bad idea, now people who are in the knew are saying that this may be the solution, an imperfect solution but maybe the only solution.
Please read the Time magazine article of 2.9.2009 entitled "Why Your Bank is Broke" by Stephen Grandel. It will help you understand the situation.

"corrupt suits" No need for intimidating tactics in this administration. Character is judged by what you do.

America is looking for and counting on a sincere leadership that does not appear to be above the people

How silly to even be discussing this subject in this day and age? What he wears is irrelevant in the Whitehouse. Now if he were visiting other leaders than that would be different. I don't care WHAT he wears around his house. That IS his house for goodness sake.

Reminds me a bit of Robert Kennedy, often pictured in shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Lends an air of authenticity instead of the phony formality of 'the suits'. And in my suit-wearing days, I would always take off the jacket when it was time to get down to business and get stuff DONE. Deliberate or not, the shirt-sleeve look reinforces Obama's message that it's time to forget partisan bickering and do the 'peoples' business'. I like it.

It certainly shows the president's work ethic that he cares more for the country than his own wardrobes. As far as I'm concerned he can wear anything he likes as long as he's comfortable in it and taking care of business of the people. We have far more important things like unemployment in millions and housing crises and so forth. People get off the subject and go find your republican's senators and congressman to tell them to work with the new president and pass the bill for our jobs and economies and stop bickering around like a bunch kids.

According to several reports, casual Friday style is becoming everyday style in the Obama White House, with the president encouraging staffers to take off their jackets, even in the Oval Office.

It is a privilege to wear a suit and tie. Congress is expected to. The supreme court is expected to. If it is hot in there quit wasting tax payer heat. I wouldn't want my mailman or soldiers in casual attire. He had no problem wearing a 10000 dollar bullet proof suit at the inauguration

Can't blame him. You should see what I wear when I work from home.

I think it is totally appropriate. Who cares what he is wearing anyway. There are too many problems in the world for people to be concerned about what someone is wearing and other trivial issues.

Quite honestly, as a country we have "bigger fish to fry". But me being the style Icon I am or Wardrobe Whore, what ever you prefer, I would definitely style the 44th President of the United States of America. Face it he's young and hip, and that's a great thing. He should use that to his advantage. If I could style him it would be something classic yet up to date. I'm thinking as far as suits goes I would pick something that flatters the Prez's physique; Brioni, Kiton, Corneliani. Shoes; Ferragamo, John Lobb, Barker & Black, Tom Ford. Shirts; Turnbull & Asser, Ties- Too many to name. On the casual tip comfort with style is the key.


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