Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
If there’s one thing President Donald Trump and his staff are consistent about, it’s ill-fitting suits.
The president’s loose inauguration suit and red tie as long as a Republican elephant’s snout were just the opening act for White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s that weekend. The suit Spicer wore on Saturday was so big that a concerned citizen started a GoFundMe project to get him a new one (donations will actually go to Planned Parenthood).
One telltale sign was the gap between the collar of the shirt and the collar of the jacket (see below), which should hug each other. On Spicer, the collars look like two middle-schoolers slow dancing. Other markers of an ill fit: the overly wide shoulders and bunched-up sleeves.
This was the only thing that was fitting that day. Spicer came out that day to lie to the press about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. He also clearly lied to the salesperson (and himself, aw) about his measurements while getting this suit.
The question is: Why is it so hard for these incredibly wealthy men to find suits that fit them? For the president, the lack of tailoring is actually on purpose.
Trump bragged in his 2005 book Think Like a Billionaire about buying suits from Brioni “off the rack.” He also revealed in the book that he specifically avoids getting his suits fitted. “Some people think it’s best to have custom-tailored clothing,” it reads. “I don’t recommend it unless you have an oddly shaped body, and unless you have a great deal of time.”
We know Trump’s suit fits are rotten, but that they’re basically bad intentionally is hilarious. As many experts will tell you, not soliciting the help of a tailor is just wrong! One, most people should be getting a suit tailored when they buy it. It’s not about having an oddly-shaped body; it’s that it’s impossible to make a standard suit that fits everyone right off the rack.
Two, it’s an approach to tailoring that seems to be inspired by a great deal of vanity. “I don’t recommend it unless you have an oddly shaped body” — meaning Trump feels he has the utmost normal-shaped body?
Trump is also likely picking his suits for the wrong reasons, as evidenced by his predilection for Brioni. The Italian label sells suits north of $5,000, making it the kind of brand a man who wants to be seen as a billionaire would buy to flaunt his wealth, the equivalent of decorating your home with extravagant amounts of gold. As he says in the book, “Billionaires are not defined simply by the size of their holdings but also by the quality of their stuff.”
Either way, unless Trump has passed on his anti-tailor values to Spicer, the president’s press secretary has no excuse. When Spicer took the podium again this afternoon, it seems like he heard some of the internet’s feedback: The collar of his jacket hugged a lot closer to the jacket of his shirt. But the “dents,” or divots right below his shoulders, is proof that his suit jacket was still too big.
Taking tips from his new boss? That would be understandable considering what White House reporters have heard. “Trump hasn't been impressed with how Spicer dresses, once asking an aide: ‘Doesn't the guy own a dark suit?’” Axios reports. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence then Saturday’s suit was gray while Monday’s was a dark navy blue. As the Washington Post noted, Spicer was much more “crisply dressed” for Monday’s press conference. When the whole world is watching, professional clothing (especially the little details) can send a message — or at least open you up to the internet’s wrath.