Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump scans a crowd of supporters in Scranton, Penns. on July 27, 2016.
John Moore—Getty Images
By Ryan Teague Beckwith
August 4, 2016


Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event at the Ocean Center Convention Center in Daytona on Aug. 3, 2016.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Donald Trump’s choice of clothing on the trail echoes his campaign’s theme: America was great once—probably sometime in the mid 1980s—but it’s not any more, and I’m going to bring the old days back. Either by accident or by design, the Republican nominee dresses like a Reagan-era Wall Street mogul, and controversies over his menswear line have put an unusual focus on fashion in the election.

The Trump Look

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump adjusts his tie prior to speaking during a Tea Party rally against the international nuclear agreement with Iran outside the US Capitol in Washington on Sept. 9, 2015.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

The characteristic Trump look begins with the suit. It’s always a suit—never a sport coat and slacks, a look that Trump would likely consider too middle-management. The colors come from a limited palette of charcoal, gray and navy blue.

An Outdoors Look

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered at Fountain Park during a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Ralph Freso—Getty Images

Trump even wears dark suits when campaigning outdoors, though he sometimes skips the tie and puts on a Make America Great Again baseball cap, a look he favored at a rally in Phoenix and during a trip to his Scottish golf course.

A Campaign Uniform

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures during a rally at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on August 3, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Mark Wallheiser—Getty Images

Trump is hardly the only politician with what amounts to a uniform. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton favors pantsuits, while President Obama told Vanity Fair in 2012 that he only wears gray or blue suits to pare down the number of decisions he has to make each day. (Not to mention avoid the kind of the criticism he took for sporting a tan suit once.)

An Older Style

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg delivers his keynote conference on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress at the Fira Gran Via Complex on February 22, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.
David Ramos—Getty Images

But Trump’s choice of outfits makes an impression. It’s an old-school look for a certain type of business leader, especially those in traditional industries like manufacturing, which Trump has promised to revitalize. Today’s high-tech business moguls, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Apple’s Tim Cook, favor a more casual look.

Boxy, Not Tailored

Neil Patrick Harris attends the opening night of "She Loves Me" on Broadway at Studio 54 on March 17, 2016 in New York City.
Theo Wargo—2016 Getty Images

The suit is also boxy, not overly tailored. The boxy look conveys a more traditional view of masculinity, making the wearer look larger and more broad-shouldered. By comparison, the more modern look favored by someone like Neil Patrick Harris—and his character, Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother”—is more form-fitting with a wider range of colors and patterns.

The Power Tie

Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, center, arrives speak to the media outside a town hall event in Columbus, Ohio on Aug. 1, 2016.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The focal point of the suit is the power tie. Trump favors bold colors—especially red, the classic 1980s power tie choice and a color now associated with Republicans. If he goes for a pattern, it’s typically just stripes. The shirt is white and the suit unbuttoned, to accentuate the tie.

The Kaine Look

Democratic Vice President nominee Tim Kaine holds his wife's hand on stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Benjamin Lowy for TIME

By comparison, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine wore a blue shirt with a multi-colored striped tie to the Democratic national convention. That more accessible look may have contributed to the image of him as “America’s step-dad” that some had after his national debut.

The Small Touches

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump scans a crowd of supporters in Scranton, Penns. on July 27, 2016.
John Moore—Getty Images

With men’s fashion, it’s the small touches that make the difference. Like cufflinks, which Trump makes a point of wearing, but which most American men only wear on formal occasions, such as weddings.

The Tie Length

Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virg. on Oct. 14, 2015.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

There’s also one stylistic flourish that is specific to Trump: the extremely long tie. Many American men knot their ties poorly, resulting in uneven lengths, but generally the tie is supposed to end at the top of the belt buckle. Trump’s almost always extends below that, typically a fashion no-no. Coupled with the unbuttoned jacket and the bold colors, the tie becomes the focal point of the outfit.

The Trump-Pence Look

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and Vice Presidential nominee, takes the stage to speak at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 20, 2016.
Bill Clark—Roll Call

The Trump look even seems to have rubbed off on his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. As a member of the House of Representatives, Pence favored the more buttoned-down look. But as he took the stage at the Republican national convention, you might have thought Trump was his personal tailor, right down to the tie length.

A Throwback Look

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference, in London, U.K., on Saturday, April 23, 2016.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trump look is something of a throwback. In recent years, male politicians have increasingly ditched the jacket and rolled up their sleeves, a look that conveys that they’re getting ready to work while also seeming more approachable.

The End of Neckwear?

Prince Harry, US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge pose as they attend a dinner at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England.
WPA Pool—Getty Images

Or they’ve chosen to skip the tie entirely, the political equivalent of a casual Friday. (One publication even asked, tongue in cheek, “Is President Obama killing the neck tie business?”)

Trump's Ties

Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is displayed at the Trump Store inside the Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.
Michael Nagle—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP

Menswear isn’t just symbolic in the Trump campaign, it’s become part of the story. After Trump said that many Mexican immigrants are rapists at his campaign launch, Macy’s stopped carrying Trump’s line of dress shirts, ties, cufflinks and watches.

Wearing a Trump Tie

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee looks on during the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

That turned a Trump tie into a symbol of one’s, well, ties to Trump. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee even boasted that he was wearing a Trump tie at one primary debate. “I love Donald Trump. He is a good man. I’m wearing a Trump tie tonight,” he said.

Made in China

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds up an American made Knotty Tie as she speaks after taking a tour of Knotty Tie Company in Denver on Aug. 3, 2016.
Andrew Harnik—AP

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has sought to turn Trump’s line of menswear into an attack line, asking in her acceptance speech “what part of ‘America First’ leads him to make Trump ties in China, not Colorado, Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan.” To underline the point, she later visited Denver tie maker Knotty Tie, picking up a custom tie with her campaign logo for her husband.

A Gender Divide

American businessman Donald Trump (left) meets with Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca at Trump's office, in New York City in 1987.
Robert R. McElroy—Getty Images

Trump has had this look for decades. But in a year where he faces the first female major party nominee, a historically high gender gap among supporters as well as donors and multiple controversies over his statements about women, Trump’s fashion choices only accentuate his differences with Clinton.


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