For Some Reason, The Media Is Obsessed With Paul Ryan’s Clothes

Of all the stories that have been written about Paul Ryan’s assencion to the second spot on the 2012 Presidential ticket, perhaps the most bizarre have been those written about Paul Ryan’s sartorial choices:

Tongues were wagging when Congressman Paul Ryan made his entrance as the Republican Party’s Vice Presidential nominee this past Saturday, and it wasn’t just about his conservative reputation.

For many, it was about his unconservative choice of not wearing a tie.

“I think the visual was bad that Mr. Ryan was not wearing a coat and tie,” commented CNN Political Analyst James Carville on the network recently.


“You don’t need to wear a tie anymore,” said Fashion Guru Katharine Rubino from Neiman Marcus at Merrick Park.

Rubino said in the year 2012, most times, the so-called “tie rule” no longer applies.

“A tie is never going away, it’s a classic but today men don’t HAVE to wear a tie,” she said,

Diana Reese of the WaPo Blog She The People comments:

I’ll admit that whatever the season, I like to see men wearing suits and ties. If they fit well, they look good. They look powerful. And a part of me believes that as this is a major event, the two should have been dressed more formally.

But it isn’t only politicians who are dressing more casually than they once did; casual Friday has overtaken the entire work week and moved into the church and temple, weddings and funerals.

Romney’s wardrobe has definitely become more casual in recent months. He’s often sporting a button-down Oxford shirt and khakis or even jeans, looking like Everyman. That’s a change from the full business suit and tie (plus makeup for the TV cameras) he wore in a rural Iowa diner where he looked out of place among the farmers.

Four years ago, President Obama and Vice President Biden dropped the jackets but kept the ties, and matching white shirts, during the announcement of the vice presidential candidate.

Since then, President Obama’s been criticized for giving up neckties in public appearances. But he didn’t start the trend.

You can go all the way back to 1980 and find President Ronald Reagan tieless for his speech in front of the Statue of Liberty announcing his fall campaign.

Indeed, you can:

Of course, this was just the beginning of Reagan projecting the image of the cowboy from the west coming to save the country, and it’s an image that was repeated many times during his Presidency. At the same time, though, Reagan was famous for always wearing a suit and tie in the Oval Office, and insisting that his male advisers and Cabinet members do the same, so he clearly had a sense of formality in the appropriately place.

Times have changed since then, though, and I’m really trying to figure out what’s so wrong with Paul Ryan wearing an open collared shirt.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, the media is not exactly the brightest bulb in the display case. All part and parcel of the big decline. Ryan also happens to be guilty of being a Republican.

  2. Murray says:

    For some reason Doug Mataconis is so obsessed in tracking silly that he equates a few posts and local news avatars with … a media obsession.

    P.S: your posts are part and parcel of “the media”.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    “Ryan also happens to be guilty of being a Republican.”

    Since Al Gore’s earth tones and Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits got lots of press, I don’t think that’s the most critical issue.

  4. bk says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: So, then, you ignored the two paragraphs about Obama and Biden in the WaPo article, huh?

  5. al-Ameda says:

    No tie?

    What I want to knows, was the hypocrite wearing an American Flag Lapel Pin?

  6. Alex says:

    Female politicians certainly get this attention all the time, so maybe the double standard is finally ending. I thought you were going to mention the articles that were being written about how Ryan’s suits are too baggy (they really are poorly fitting, especially on a guy who puts a lot of effort into staying fit).

    Hillary Clinton did get a lot of positive attention for the following exchange at a press conference:

    MODERATOR: OK. Which designers do you prefer?
    SECRETARY CLINTON: What designers of clothes?
    SECRETARY CLINTON: Would you ever ask a man that question? (Laughter.) (Applause.)
    MODERATOR: Probably not. Probably not. (Applause.)

  7. bill says:

    yet no mention of democrat kerry gauthier having sex with a 17 yr old boy ? it’s ok i guess, he’s a democrat……really?

  8. bill says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: well, they’re liberal so what do you expect?