Photo: Hartmarx Corp.
The newest President of the United States caused a stir with the way he accessorized his new tuxedo at the Inaugural balls a couple of days ago, but it was nothing that shouldn't have been anticipated. He dressed the same modestly unconventional way he has been dressing for these things since he came to Washington. He was photographed wearing a black suit with a white shirt and silver tie at the black tie Legends Ball in 2005, for example, and he wore a dinner jacket with a black four in hand at the NAACP Image Awards in 2005.
If his dress was unsurprising, it was also disappointing. Mr. Obama invoked John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address, a man whose inaugural dress is remarked upon four decades later. Obama has a shape that looks good in clothes and he had the same opportunity, but he failed to take advantage.
He failed to take advantage because all minor modifications to black tie reduce the formality and elegance of the clothes. The President would have looked outstanding in a classic black and white ensemble, but chose to wear a white bow tie inappropriately to some events and a black four in hand to others.
If he wanted to make a statement about Change with his dress, as would have been his right, I believe he should have discarded black tie altogether and worn a plain black suit with a white shirt and a black satin necktie. It would have been a more powerful look, and though I would have mourned if he did to dinner jackets in this country what John Kennedy did to the hat, this President's inaugural images might also have been viewed across the decades.