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.
Obviously, the historic meeting in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was not about fashion. Even if it was, anyone could predict what they would wear, since the two men have rather unwavering taste in clothing: a navy suit with a bright red or blue tie for Trump, and a Mao suit for Kim.
Somehow, though, the meeting gave us something sartorial to chew on, and that is how sloppy Trump looked next to Kim. It’s not unusual for Trump to be haphazardly dressed — he’s been known to tape his ties together and has been the subject of explainers about suiting “don’ts” — but it’s notable (or at least noticeable) that he showed up to the most significant meeting of his presidency looking less than totally put-together.
For the meeting, which resulted in a signed agreement committing to the denuclearization of North Korea and (from the US) “security guarantees” for the isolated country, Trump wore his standard navy suit and cherry red tie with a small American flag pin on his lapel. The look was very much of a piece with the alternating American and North Korean flags that provided the backdrop for Trump and Kim’s joint photo op, a controversial display that could be construed as a big PR win for Pyongyang.
Upon closer inspection, though, Trump’s pants appear heavily wrinkled and his tie knot looks crooked, shifting the dimple in the fabric to the side. Kim’s buttoned-up suit, which has fewer design elements to adjust, comes off much tidier.
weak ass knot pic.twitter.com/2ph6Rn9bac— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) June 12, 2018
An anonymous friend of Racked who routinely wears suits to work notes that, while imperfect, Trump’s tie is actually “not tragic.” And, he adds, for once it’s not “30 feet long.” Indeed, though Trump is known for wearing exaggeratedly long neckties, his tie in Singapore reached just past his belt. This anonymous suit-wearer takes issue with the tie itself, however, comparing its shiny red material to a stage curtain.
It’s unlikely that Trump was trying to send a particular message with his styling, but that’s also kind of the point. If anything, a perfectly pressed suit would have signaled some kind of deference for the occasion, and that’s not Trump’s game. He doesn’t conform with suiting standards and he doesn’t adhere to diplomatic norms — or to presidential norms generally.
A slightly off-kilter suit is classic Trump. As classic as this quote about North Korea’s real estate potential from a news conference following his meeting with Kim: “As an example, they have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo?’”