Karine from France kindly brought this outfit to my attention – President Obama giving a press conference on the need for an aggressive response to ISIS. It has caused something of a stir in the States where Jared Keller refered to the outfit as “The Audacity of Taupe”.
First let’s look at the outfit itself. A nice summer suit to my mind, although I find the fit on the body a little loose for his tall, slim figure. It’s a beautiful colour – a neutral beige – that can be worn by just about everyone. This sort of beige is an inoffensive colour that is neither warm nor cool; a middling colour that works well with just about every skin tone. Obama has deep cool colouring and looks great in black, deep blue and dark charcoal and certainly these are his best looks for suits.
But in warm weather many men like to wear a lighter suit – perhaps in lightweight wools, linen or silk and this one would be a fine choice for a summer wedding, for example. He has paired it with a icy white shirt and an attractive silk tie, with a bright grey and white stripe. This tones very well with the suit and with the deep cool greys in Obama’s hair.
While I do like the suit, and think Barak Obama looks nice in it, I don’t think it is appropriate bellicose presidential wear. You don’t declare war wearing beige, really. The topic and the seriousness of the issue require a much stronger “presidential” look – maximum authority required. So my choice would have been a dark navy suit and white shirt, and probably a more sober tie. Stripes can look jaunty and sporty, so probably a plain tie in that shade of grey, or a strong deep shade like purple or dark red would have hit the spot so much better.
In the end I find it an incongruous look. This is a man who is saying he would rather be somewhere else, doing something else. His own audacity and hope is ebbing fast. It’s rather sad but his outfit choice is the choice of someone who is a bit washed out and a bit washed up. It’s the sort of suit a retired president might wear.