Mar 23rd, 2020, 07:47 PM

Politics of Fashion

By Lauren McDonald
Joe Biden, Image Credit: Shutterstock/1417577114
As presidential primary elections continue to make their way throughout the country, candidates remain in the spotlight hoping to be influential to voters. Their words and actions are not the only things that have an impact: their choice in clothing will continue to communicate nonverbally to voters.

Citizens all over the United States have either voted or are preparing to vote in the primary elections which will lead to the presidential elections this November. During this time, all eyes are focused on the presidential candidates that continue to campaign around the country.

It’s important to note that not only are the words and actions of these individuals are spotlighted by the media but their choice in dress also carries strong messages. Democratic candidates are often seen in public wearing light or navy blue. According to the Guardian, the color blue carries the meaning of "calm, stable, trust and smart". An online news source called Entrepreneur Europe also states that the color blue "is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible and secure".  These are the qualities often looked for in candidates by voters. 

In a recap of fashion choices that were seen during a previous presidential debate, Vox magazine stated, “Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden looked like they always do: dark suits with blue ties, the former’s white hair slightly tousled, the latter’s white hair surrounded by a film of orange-ish foundation.” The magazine also mentioned that other candidates, specifically the women wore bright colors, such as red and purple suit jackets. These bright colors evoke a sense of power and confidence that can be used to reassure voters that the candidates are and will continue to be strong leaders.  

The New York Times has written that the way politicians dress in public settings is a part of political branding. Vanessa Friedman a journalist and chief fashion critic for the New York Times comments on Senator Sanders’ signature look:  “his trademark messy look became a symbol of his passionate focus on upending the status quo.”  Once politicians create a look for themselves it helps them build a feeling of consistency toward their political base. How they dress needs to align with their political views and general way of being. This provides a clear and steadfast mode of communication during their campaign.  Though he has stepped down from the presidential race, Andrew Yang is a great example of this principle. CNBC’s contributor, Tim Calkins mentions that Yang’s no-tie look “reinforced his tech-centric image as venture capitalist and entrepreneur.”

While male candidates rarely wear many accessories other than their ties, they are often seen with American flag pins on their lapels. This shows the world that regardless of their difference in policy or opinion they are all proud to represent and serve the United States of America.

American Flag Pin, Image Credit: Shutterstock/671092147

Unfortunately, cases of the coronavirus have rapidly increased in the United States throughout the past couple of weeks. The spread of the virus has kept people that have non-essential jobs within their homes. Many celebrities, including hosts of late-night shows, have begun connecting with the world digitally. This change in setting has impacted how they dress while being in the public view. Formal wear such as suit jackets and button-up shirts have been replaced with t-shirts and hoodies. Since presidential campaigns will also move onto digital platforms it will be interesting to see whether the dress of our presidential candidates will stay professional or become more relaxed throughout these next few months.  For the latest news on the candidates, their campaigns and the elections, visit