Dressing the part

That crisp white oxford shirt, buttoned just enough to create an aura of undone carelessness and, simultaneously, absolute thoughtfulness. The tasteful ties, the elegant suits, and above all, the dapper man who fills them: Barack Obama. One might not immediately consider a presidential candidate a fashion icon since such hopefuls are often dismissed on account of blasé, run-of-the-mill suiting in staid, traditional patterns, colors, and silhouettes, but it seems that as Election Day looms closer and closer, the fashion community has been taking notice of ObamaâÄôs inherent stylishness and bringing it to the publicâÄôs attention. Evidence of this is springing up as quickly as a new âÄúItâÄù bag. Donatella Versace said she dedicated her menâÄôs spring-summer 2009 collection to Obama, while NYLON Guys magazine, brother to that too-cool hipster Bible on sale at the Coffman Union bookstore or Urban Outfitters, devoted its back cover (which is a huge advertising moneymaker for magazines) to ObamaâÄôs campaign. HarperâÄôs Bazaar was so inspired by ObamaâÄôs missus, Michelle, that they created an entire editorial spread featuring covergirl Tyra Banks as a Michelle lookalike going about various First Lady duties in a variety of high-cost, high-style ensembles. Outfits Michelle Obama is seen in on television sell out in minutes to enthusiastic housewives and high-powered businesswomen alike looking for a piece of her chic and simple sophistication. Now the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) has come together to create several pro-Obama shirts and accessories to be sold on his website. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel might not be lending his mighty German hand, but American designers like Tracy Reese, Diane von Furstenberg and Isaac Mizrahi are proffering their wares and talents in support of ObamaâÄôs cause. So for those who support the Illinois senator in his run for the biggest office in America but want to look fashionable doing so, the designs will be sold online alongside the offerings from âÄúArtists for ObamaâÄù and the usual campaign merchandise. So why Obama and not McCain? The 72-year-old McCain perfectly fits the stereotypical image of a presidential hopeful, and his beaming blonde wife Cindy certainly knows how to dress the part of a supportive wife in the tradition of Laura Bush , heavy on the Oscar de la Renta and light on the Thakoon . But CindyâÄôs expensive, matronly ensembles and her husbandâÄôs staid sensible suits are in stark contrast to Michelle ObamaâÄôs spot-on stylish department-store dresses and BarackâÄôs simple but pleasing outfits. Fashion and politics have always been quite cozy; think of the days of clotheshorse Marie Antoinette in the French court, the dandy dressers and powdered wigs of the Revolution, and most memorably, the golden years of the Kennedys. A comparison between the Obamas of today and the Kennedys of yesteryear has been drawn countless times; the timeless shapes and silhouettes of MichelleâÄôs sharp dresses and skirt suits and her ever-present collar of faux pearls from Carolee are strikingly similar to the effortless elegance of Jackie Kennedy , while BarackâÄôs attention to detail in his daily dress bring to mind fallen president Jack, who historically was very particular about his public image. ItâÄôs undeniable that the Obamas have an innate sense of the stylish that works to their advantage. Americans love their First Family to look the part and the picturesque Obama foursome (including daughters Sasha and Malia ) do that quite well, what with their gleaming toothy smiles and wholesome values. ItâÄôs not surprising that the fashion community has rallied so steadfastly around the Democratic candidate. The fashion industry is notoriously liberal: Ad campaigns often veer toward risqué, a great many designers are homosexual and artistic minds often tend to be left-leaning. When someone as change-oriented and exciting as Barack Obama comes along, itâÄôs no wonder the fashion community jumps right on the campaign train and enjoys (and beautifies) its ride.