By Judy Kurtz
Fashionistas and style gurus are weighing in on President Obama’s tan press conference suit, giving their two cents on the taupe two-piece that lit up the Internet on Thursday.
While Washingtonian magazine Fashion Editor Kate Bennett gives the president props for “[stepping] out of the mold” and nixing a traditional blue or black suit, she says he instead “opted for a color" more associated with laid-back occasions than addressing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the situation in Ukraine
Peyton Jenkins, co-founder of the tailored apparel store Alton Lane, also thinks Obama’s color choice was a face-the-media no-no, telling ITK: “To wear a tan suit to such a serious press conference on the heels of his highest 'strong disapproval' rating of his presidency and after catching so much flak for playing golf immediately after announcing the ISIS/[James]Foley situation was just not his best call as president.”
It isn't all bad news for the commander in chief, though. Jenkins noted of Obama’s sartorial sense: “Generally speaking, tan fits him well as a color option. And his tie selection for that suit was spot-on.”
Lawrence Behar, co-owner of men’s designer shirt maker Ike Behar, which just opened a store in Georgetown, also applauds Obama for mixing it up.
“It's not common that a president goes to work without his uniform of a dark suit and the ‘party appropriate’ blue or red tie, but Obama is an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking president, so it is refreshing to see him stepping out on his wardrobe," Behar says.
He adds: “After all, it's the suit that makes the man, not the color.”
M.M. LaFleur founder Sarah LaFleur, whose D.C. pop-up store will be opening this fall, has a message for the taupe haters: “Let’s give the man a break!”
“He’s got a lot on his plate right now, and outfit remorse is probably the least of his worries,” LaFleur exclaims. “Yes, the color is outside the norm for someone in his position, but it’s summer, folks. He’s been in Martha’s Vineyard; he’s got a bit of a tan. Why not work it?”
D.C.-based stylist Naina Singla, who heads up the blog STYLE’N, also praised the suit, calling the color “very flattering” on Obama. While noting that it might have been considered too casual, Singla says the suit only raised eyebrows because “the president did something different, and when you do something different it always draws attention and criticism.”
Bennett says Obama could avoid the light-brown suit bashing with a few tips for wearing tan.
“Don’t do what the president did here and wear a blah tie and a white shirt. … This look was screaming for a hit of color,” she says.
Further, Jenkins advises: “Never, ever wear black shoes or a black belt with a tan suit. Please.”
And Bennett has a plea for the suit-wearing set, whether the wardrobe is tan or tangerine: “Please, men, I beg you, know your body, find a tailor — a $50 tailoring job makes any suit, any color, look expensive. Boxy is out.”