Monday, February 21, 2011


Preamble: I realized yesterday that President's Day has been a greatly overlooked moment for style appreciation. Like them or not, the American presidents have been at the center of the nation's - and the world's - consciousness for over 200 years. With all eyes on their every move, one can assume that even in the era of powder wigs, the style choices of these First Men were no afterthought, (after all, if there is anything politicians know it is the art of self presentation). From Washington to Roosevelt, Kennedy to Obama, one cannot deny that presidential style has impacted the national menswear zeitgeist (and vice versa).

In celebration of this national holiday, I was curious to trace the trends and personalities of the American presidency, from founding fathers to today so I scoured the internet for images of each president with an eye to their personal style.

I won't lie, finding these images took a hell of a lot longer than I expected but I was fascinated to see the introduction, ebb and flow of trends. Bow ties for example continuously go in and out of favor, beards make a strong showing post-civil war, and there's a period of amazing hats around Calvin Coolidge. I'll be honest, in the end I actually came to appreciate these guys in a whole new light.  Anyway, check out our 44 rather dapper presidents after the jump and happy holiday. - M

**Editors Note**
This project was inspired
in part by N'East Style's
excellent post on Teddy Roosevent
- many thanks Christine!

1. George Washington
Founding the nation with impressive swagger.
2. John Adams
Pulls off velvet suit and fluffy cuffs.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Unapologetic in fur. Well played, sir.
4. James Madison
Artfully chooses a cranberry tone to compliment his ruddy complexion.
5. James Monroe
The first to go sans wig. Also, introduces the nation to the popped collar.
6. John Quincy Adams
Not messing around with his in-office style.
He is also the first president to be photographed.
7. Andrew 'The Hair' Jackson.
Honestly, he gives modern men a run for their money.
Note: evidence of bow ties begins.
8. Martin Van Buren
Floppy lapels, tuxedo shirt and the bow tie continues to evolve.
9. William 'The Silver Fox' Harrison
Sporting a well groomed head of hair and pair of brows.
10. John Tyler
Killing it with floppy bow tie and rounded lapels.
I had no idea who this guy was before today, but this is seriously impressive.
11. James K Polk
Setting the stage for Johnny Depp.
12. Zachary Taylor
A beautiful photo and the return of the bow tie.
13. Millard Filmore
Wonderfully textured suit, vest and smirk.
14. Franklin Pierce
Bringing military into the picture. Must be recognized for that coif.
15. James Buchanan.
White tie occasion and what an expression.
16. Abraham Lincoln.
Honestly, what can be said?
He wears his confidence like an overcoat. Spectacular.
17. Andrew Johnson
Perfecting the presidential profile shot.
18. Ulysses S. Grant
My personal favorite. Besides being the Civil War's most beloved hero,
(Robert E Lee aside), Grant also managed to cultivate one of
the greatest beards in American history.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
Takes the beard craze to the next level.
20. James A. Garfield
Bearded, (yes, Grant started quite a trend) and overcoated.
21. Chester A. Arthur
Excuse the watermarked image,
it was the best one I could find of those epic whiskers.
One of two Vermont born presidents. #pride
22. Grover Cleveland
With a name like that, a polka dot bow-tie is essential.
22. Benjamin Harrison
The young man, pre-President, sporting dual textured lapels. Nice.

24. Grover Cleveland, Reprise
Trivia of the day: Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th pres.
Looks like his penchant for polka dotted ties carried through both terms. I admire the dedication.

25. William McKinley
Rocking the close cut and side part that is just came back in style.
26. Theodore Roosevelt
Certainly the most advanced of all American Presidents (yes, including Kennedy)
Spread collar, printed tie, polka dot vest. And those specs. No competition.

27. William Taft
Well, that's quite a nice hat and 'stache combo.

28. Woodrow Wilson
Clearly knows how to move in a suit.
29. Warren G. Harding
Now look here, this is how to mix pin stripes and polka dots.
30. Calvin Coolidge
First class hat. Also, the only Vermonter president. #pride

31. Herbert Hoover
Some serious boots, sir.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Longest running president sporting the best outerwear of them all. 
I actually want that jacket.
33. Harry Truman
The man with the pocket square.
33. Dwight Eisenhower
Letting the ladies get their two cents in. Good man.
35. John F. Kennedy
No doubt, the man is the ultimate icon for American style.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Reminding us that you're never too formal to play with your dogs.
37. Richard Nixon
He's actually jumping in this picture. Great tie too.
38. Gerald Ford
Apparently stylish presidents have stylish friends.
39. Jimmy Carter
Those collar points mean business.
40. Ronald Regan
American flag and a plaid western.
Doesn't get much more American than that.
41. George H. W. Bush
Bomber. Ok, he might have out-Americaned Regan.
42. Bill Clinton
Yes, it is true playing an instrument wins style points.
43. George W. Bush
Tip of the hat to the quintessential Amurrican accessory.
44. Barack Obama
Charisma. You either have it or you don't, the rest is all details.


  1. Great article and photos. There are so many good ones, but for me, the photo and caption for Abraham Lincoln really take the cake. I love it! He must have been amazing in person.

  2. This is a great post, but I really think you should have included FDR since he was the longest running president in US history, and the only one to be elected for more than 2 terms! But my hubby and I still got a kick out of looking out of it. I can see how it could have taken forever to get the pictures!

  3. Hi Kate, thanks for calling out that glaring omission!! Now added :) Cheers! - M