Update: This post was originally written in 2018. It’s now been five whole years since the tan suit. The world has changed in that year. But when it comes to how ridiculous the controversy looks in hindsight, well, nothing’s changed at all.
I think about the Obama tan suit fiasco of 2014 all the time. The country collectively spent the last few days of August that year lambasting him for a sartorial choice at an August 28 press conference, and everyone was weirdly personally offended by it. The internet and cable news shows went into a full-on freakout.
Yes, the suit was ill-fitting and in a shade of tan that makes me want to take a nap. But with 20/20 hindsight, the public outcry was beyond bizarre. People were actually calling it unpresidential! New York Rep. Peter King went so far as to say that Obama’s tan suit meant that he didn’t care about national security threats. Even Esquire had some harsh commentary.
Little did we know that four years later, the next president would be known for making creepy comments about finding his own daughter attractive and being investigated for allegedly colluding with Russia. A fun, stress-free time for everyone.
At this point, the common refrain of, “Can you imagine if Obama did this?” comes up so frequently during the Trump era that it just sounds like white noise. But that the tan suit is one of Obama’s most memorable controversies speaks volumes about how much we expected of him while he was in office. The amount of chaos Trump has caused since becoming president is so egregious that his overly long ties and poorly tailored suits are the absolute least of anyone’s worries. Obama’s tan suit is still laughably bad, but I would honestly be fine if he had worn a T-shirt every day if it meant we had a somewhat competent president now.
To say that Obama had a flawless presidency is to gloss over his penchant for drone strikes and unpopular immigration policies, to name a few. As far as personal “scandals,” though? The suit was pretty much it, which makes the attention it drew even more insane.
If the next president is semi-normal and doesn’t start trade wars with tweets, we should let him or her wear whatever the hell they want.
Video by Dominick Nero