By Max Berlinger for GQ.
Free from the nonstop demands of being America’s president, Barack Obama has spent the past few months flexing some seriously stylish off-duty civilian looks, perhaps to the chagrin of a nation quickly coming undone. But the man has more than earned the right to put on some board shorts and live in a wardrobe of nothing but white polo shirts. It wasn’t even until Obama left the White House for good that we learned his dorky dad style was nothing more than an elaborate act to suppress his inner style god (though we had our suspicions).
Now that Obama’s back from his extended vacation, 44 is getting back to business, giving speeches and getting dressed up again (like really dressed up, as demonstrated yesterday when he looked dapper in a tuxedo to accept his “Profiles in Courage” award — and ever so gently suggest that, uh, Trumpcare is an unmitigated disaster). We were off to a good start.
Then today, Obama showed up at Seed & Chips: The Global Food Innovation Summit in Italy in the most casual of business-casual outfits. The former commander-in-chief left two buttons undone on his collared shirt, leading to a whole lot of open real estate in the chest region. Fabio would be proud, but us? Not so much. Sure, menswear’s hardline rules have softened in recent years, leaving plenty of room for swerves in a professional man’s wardrobe, but some things never change. To wit, if you’re going to wear a suit but go tieless, one undone button (and a shirt with a nice, stiff collar) is kinda the unspoken mandate, even if nowadays some style-savvy guys will go with, well, no buttons done.
But when you were once the leader of the free world and you’re speaking at an international summit about serious global initiatives and you’re over the age of, say, 26, and you are neither a pop star nor a hip-hop legend, we’d suggest leaving only the top button undone at most (better yet, throw on a tie). There’s a skin-to-seriousness ratio that’s being broken here, which is important to consider if you’re giving a big speech on a global stage or just headed into the office on casual Friday.
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