A History of Presidential Fashion—In Other Words, A Lot of Navy Suits

Ahead of Inauguration Day, take a closer look at the many navy suits that have graced the Oval Office. Plus, a few stand-out fashion moments!

By Alyssa Ray Jan 20, 2021 1:00 AMTags
Watch: Exclusive: J.Lo to Perform at Joe Biden & Kamala Harris' Inauguration

Presidents come and go, but navy suits stand the test of time.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the United States of America's 46th president. While this is the President-elect's big day, we expect many news outlets to report on the fashion of incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Yes, women in power are often fashion trendsetters. But, what about the men in D.C.? Why aren't we talking more about presidential fashion?

The answer: Most Commander-in-Chiefs wear pretty much the same thing.

Regardless of party affiliation, the POTUS uniform consists of a navy, gray or black suit, an American flag pin and a tie (often red or blue). And we expect more of this from President-elect Biden, who loved himself a navy suit on the campaign trail.

The only thing Biden loves more than navy suits? Ice cream and trains.

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Of course, some presidents have taken fashion risks over the years. We mean, only Abraham Lincoln could make a massive top hat look good.

And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention former President Ronald Reagan's affinity for a brown suit.

Don't forget, former President Barack Obama once made headlines for wearing a tan suit. More on that later on…

Matt Baron/Shutterstock

For a closer look at the many navy suits that've graced the Oval Office (and a few stand-out moments), scroll through the images below!

The King of the Navy Suit

President John F. Kennedy has been described as having had an Ivy League-style. This meant plenty of navy or gray suits.

In fact, it was a dark blue suit that helped him pop during a televised presidential debate against Richard Nixon in 1960. So, ask not what your navy suit can do for you, ask what you can do for your navy suit!

Still Dapper Though

Yes, a navy suit is often a safe choice. But, you can't say that JFK didn't wear the hell out of 'em.

Different President, Same Navy Suit

Following in his predecessor's footsteps, Lyndon B. Johnson also wore his fair share of navy suits. He could also be found wearing the colors gray and black.

President he may've been, fashion icon he was not.

A Navy Man in Navy

Richard Nixon had more stuff to worry about than fashion, like ending the Vietnam War.  (Also, *cough* Watergate *cough*.) So, it was rare to spot President Nixon in anything other than navy, gray or black.

Mixing It Up With Gray

Case in point: Here's President Nixon in a classic gray suit.

Navy Suit in the Oval Office

This isn't the first navy suit to grace the Oval office. Worn by President Gerald Ford, who was taking, what appears to be, a very serious phone call.

We Call This Blueish Gray

President Jimmy Carter seemed to mix two presidential colors with this blue-gray suit. 

Classic Navy

However, in this photo, he kept it classic with a Navy ensemble.

Well, That's Not Navy

Look at this brown suit! We almost did a double take. President Ronald Reagan wore this cool suit when he was just the President-elect visiting the White House.

Back to Basics

While President Reagan could mix it up here and there, he still donned many a navy suit. Here he is wearing one in 1984.

A Charcoal Number

Instead of Navy, President George H.W. Bush wore a charcoal suit while greeting Philippine President Corazon Aquino in 1989.

Keeping It Casual

President Bush did have a casual side though! Here we see him wearing jeans and a leather jacket while at Camp David.

President Clinton in Navy

While campaigning for the presidency in '92, President Bill Clinton wore—wait for it—a navy suit.

Navy, But Not Entirely

Serious up top, party on the bottom. We're not sure what President Clinton is speaking about in this shot, but we do notice his outfit.

While the 42nd president kept it classic with a dark jacket, he spiced things up with bright blue pants. Gotta love the '90s!

Spotted: President George W. Bush in Navy

Like his father, President George W. Bush had plenty of navy suits in his wardrobe. It looks like navy suits will stand the test of time.

More Casual

When he wasn't wearing a navy suit, President Bush would channel his Texan roots and wear jeans and a shirt. However, the ensemble still features shades of a blue.

A Royal Look

For a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, President Barack Obama wore his finest tail tuxedo. 

A Tan Suit We'll Never Forget

President Obama made headlines when he wore a tan suit for a press conference about the U.S.'s plans regarding Syria. At the time, critics called President Obama's suit too casual for such a serious update.

All we remember is he looked damn good and that is wasn't navy!

Looking Good

President Obama went with a classic gray suit for this outing. And may we just say, he looked like pure fire!

No Tie for Trump

President Donald Trump chose to forgo a tie for one of his campaign stops in 2016.

Business Attire

President Trump donned business attire for this 2018 photo.

Inauguration Day is Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.