In early December, Donald Trump’s tie made social media waves when gust of wind blew it back to reveal a piece of Scotch tape.
#TapeGate trended on Twitter and people wondered how the soon-to-be leader of the free world, who presumably has a team of stylists, personal shoppers, and experts available to him at all times (also: lots of money), was hitting up OfficeMax to solve his fashion problems.
Well, Trump’s trusty tape trick has been revealed again — on Inauguration Day.
Soon after Trump was sworn in as 45th President of the United States of America, a breeze flipped his tie over his shoulder to reveal the translucent tape.
While no one’s claiming it’s the most egregious of Trump’s missteps, there are a variety of fixes for a wayward tie tail: A tie pin, tack, or bar is an elegant choice. Many ties have loops built into the back to tuck the tail into. In fact, back in December, one Twitter user went deep and saw that Trump’s tie does, in fact, have this — but Trump wears his ties so long that the tail appears to be too short to take advantage of it.
In a pinch, you can even tuck the tie tail into your shirt or use a safety pin.
Overall, though, it’s Trump’s habit of wearing those too-long ties that has drawn the most ire.
The rule of thumb is that a man’s tie should just graze the top of his belt buckle — a rule Trump regularly violates. Business Insider called Trump’s ties “one of the most offensive mistakes” possible in men’s style. Comedian Patton Oswalt called the look “hungover limo driver” on Twitter after the second presidential debate (ouch). GQ recently published what, at first glance, seemed to be a positive article on the “style lesson you can learn from Trump,” but it was a feint. The article used Trump’s ties as an example of how not to dress.
The prevailing narrative casts Trump as a man who’s simply clueless about clothing, violating basic Menswear 101 rules out of ignorance. But others see a strategy behind the president’s style mistakes.
“Let’s make it clear — when it comes to a presidential race, there are no style mistakes,” says David Yi, editor of the men’s beauty and grooming site Very Good Light. “Everything is planned out methodically, [from] lapel size to tie color. So when it comes to Trump’s suits, of course the ill fit and copious jacket sizes are intentional. He wants to look larger than life.”
Another interesting theory has it that Trump’s, shall we say, “nontraditional” proportions are an attempt to distract from his body size. (As we know from his appearance on Dr. Oz, Trump’s BMI of 29.5 puts him firmly in the “overweight” category, and just shy of “obese.”) David Yi points out that Trump frequently wears slimming black, and that his oversize suits “make his shoulders look brawnier while hiding his overweight body.”
A vigorous discussion on Quora evinces a similar theory — that the “immense padding and overcut shoulders” of Trump’s jackets are done on purpose to balance out Trump’s sizable belly, thus giving him the illusion of the V-shaped torso we associate with powerful men. In this context, Trump’s ties are cut longer to balance his jacket’s oversize proportions.
But if Trump’s style mistakes are an attempt to fool the eye, not everyone agrees that it’s working. “Trump’s large, boxy suits and oversize ties aren’t flattering to his body type and actually make him look larger,” says men’s style expert Matthew Simko. But Simko also believes there’s a method to his style madness:
“To Trump’s pool of voters, a slick-looking guy in a crisp, well-tailored suit would actually be a turnoff,” Simko says. “Trump supporters don’t want the man in charge to be crisp or cosmopolitan.”
Indeed, Trump’s style stands in stark contrast to President Obama, who is probably the best-dressed man to hold the executive office since John Kennedy. Obama’s slim body type and well-tailored, tasteful navy suits project a sleek urbanity that’s catnip to some. But to the millions of middle Americans who just voted Trump in, well, they’re more likely to relate to the loud guy in the off-the-rack-looking suit — even if said suit costs $6,000 and is custom-made by Brioni.
After all, Trump is a man who rode a series of highly controversial statements straight into our country’s highest office. In the wake of the election that no one in the mainstream media saw coming, the country has had to reckon with the likelihood that Trump was elected precisely because of the offensive statements that earned him sneers from the mainstream media — not in spite of them.
Similarly, Trump’s style may be the product of strategic rule-flouting. Every time a menswear bible like GQ blasts Trump’s style, it can only help solidify his role as outsider and further endear him to his “regular-guy” base who could care less about good taste, in fashion or otherwise. Trump supporters “want a guy that looks like them, and despite Trump being a billionaire, that’s exactly what they got,” Simko says.
And as Yi points out, Trump’s suits are made by Brioni, “the most classic brand of all — they’d know better than to create a suit that’s anything less than impeccably tailored. But as we know, Trump gets what he wants, and what he wants is a look that can continue to fool the world.”