Everybody has an opinion about Paul Ryan's "style." And that opinion is: it's bad.
The Washington Post has taken a look into Ryan's baggy, pleated dad-pants, oversized shirts in safe blue check, and the suit jackets that project sadly off his shoulders. And it sees a man who just hasn't put that much thought into what he's wearing. Or maybe that's just what Paul Ryan wants you to think.
Perhaps his raw, slightly unkempt suit balances out Romney's snazzier, controlled appearance. Ryan's Midwestern sensibilities and baggy pants may appeal to swing voters who think cuff links are wasteful expenditures. The man believes in trimming budgets, not pant legs.
"Some people are trying to put his suit into a bigger sociological picture," said Daniel James Cole, professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "Romney wearing the jeans, Reagan wearing the open shirt in 1980. That the campaign is trying to pose [Ryan] as an Everyman. I just think he didn't put an adequate amount of thought into what he was going to wear."
New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn wrote a similar piece about the Republican vice-presidential nominee's clothing choices, but she would like you, the reader, to know that she only deigned to dip a toe in the trite, over-determined world of political-sartorial analysis on the instructions of an editor:
My editor asked me to write a critique of the two men's attire on the day of the announcement in Virginia, thinking there might be something in their casual look.
The idea of politicians deliberating over what message their clothing conveys enchants editors. They tend to overestimate the effects of a generic blazer or give too much credit to mysterious back-room handlers. It amounts to an idealization of the image-making process, a hoax. In truth, there are no real differences of style and message in the clothing of the current presidential candidates, which is too bad.
Horyn's eventual conclusion: Paul Ryan wears clothes that are too baggy, making him look "like Tom Hanks in Big when he becomes a kid again." Weirdly, Horyn doesn't even mention Ryan and Mitt Romney's habit of dressing exactly alike.
Horyn's colleague Bruce Pask, a men's wear editor, says:
Like many American suit wearers, I think he suffers from the misconception that the size a guy wears directly correlates with his masculinity. In their minds, being a 42 is more manly than a 40. And yet what actually happens when a guy wears something too big is the obvious: he looks smaller, dwarfed by shoulders that are too big, a shirt collar that is too roomy, lapels that are too wide.
Meanwhile, Women's Wear Daily analyzed one of Ryan's outfits in its "Man of the Week" feature. The trade gave him a C grade, noting:
His jacket is big and ill-fitting and makes him look older than 42. He should buy something more contemporary instead of trying to please Joe the Plumber.
It also added, "Believe it or not, he's wearing square-toe dress shoes, one of the most grievous mistakes a man can make."
A C is still a significantly higher grade than the grade Ryan got for his policy positions from NARAL: 0.