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Hail to the Chief: Presidential Denim Style Through the Decades

Rivet's 2020 Denim Circularity report takes a deep dive into how the global denim industry is plotting its circular future amidst a worldwide pandemic.

There’s more to the presidential wardrobe than just blue and red neckties.

On average, U.S. consumers own seven pairs of jeans, according to data by Cotton Incorporated. However, the president of the United States is no typical civilian. Suits, trousers and button-down shirts are the DNA of a presidential uniform, but each POTUS has a stash of jeans for days when he needs to relate to the everyperson.

Jeans are for hitting the campaign trail and conversations at coffee shop town halls. And for many commanders in chief, jeans are a relic of their roots. They were a natural fit for former peanut farmer Jimmy Carter, and a necessity for Ronald Reagan’s life on his California ranch.

While jeans were an essential part of George W. Bush’s Texan wardrobe, the buck stopped there when he famously gave an executive order that banned Oval Office staff and guests from wearing jeans.

And for other chief executives, their denim style is fodder for fashion pundits. While Bill Clinton’s ’90s style is relevant with cool kids today, it was just saggy jeans and frumpy sneakers during his presidency.

Barack Obama got flack for his loose-fitting jeans, too, but has been redeemed with a sharp-looking post-presidency look of slim jeans and Rag & Bone bomber jackets.

President Trump remains an outlier having never worn jeans publicly since taking his oath in 2017. Ever the businessman, few images of a denim-clad Trump even exist, save for a handful of shots from a charity event in 1996 and during a bit at the 2006 Emmy Awards, when he sang the theme song to “Green Acres” dressed in Carhartt denim overalls.

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