What Paul Ryan Showed Us at the 2012 RNC: How Not To Wear a Suit

Paul Ryan (left) and Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The person in charge of Paul Ryan’s image management should be fired.

The photos and videos of Ryan from the 2012 Republican National Convention perfectly demonstrate how to wear a suit badly. Very badly. Like many men in the U.S., he’s pulling suits off the rack, thinking he’s a 42R when he’s really more like a 40R, maybe even a 39.

There’s this impression that a bigger suit will make you look bigger. Wrong. It has the opposite effect. Look at Ryan next to Romney in this photo. Where Romney is wearing a correctly-fitting, well-tailored suit and looking like a healthy, well-presented grown man, Ryan is drowning in his suit, and consequently looking physically far less substantial than he actually is.

Not only is Ryan’s jacket two or three sizes too large, but it isn’t even tailored. Notice how Romney’s jacket has been tailored in the midsection, appropriately “hugging” him in the middle. Ryan is wearing a shapeless barrel with lapels and sleeves.

When buying off the rack, the jacket should be nice and snug in the shoulders, with the shoulder/arm seam extending no further out than one’s actual shoulder. There’s a theory with which I’m inclined to agree that states that the suit jacket is too big if you can throw a football in it. If the shoulder fits right, everything else can be fixed by a good tailor.

And don’t get me started on the shirt. Again… too damn big. Romney’s is, of course, perfect, with the red necktie tied in an appropriate four-in-hand knot. Ryan’s shirt is at least a half an inch too large in the collar, with an attempt at a half-Windsor knot on the tie. You should be able to slip two fingers inside the collar of a properly fitting shirt. No more, and no less. And I would be willing to bet that the shirt is a full fit that blouses like a parachute, as opposed to a trim fit, which Ryan should be wearing (and Romney surely is).

One might be tempted to argue that Romney is rich and can therefore afford good suits and proper tailoring. Not true. If Ryan had capable image management with the most fervent of budget constraints, he could get through the campaign with five good, well-tailored suits totaling less than $2,000, which is probably less than the cost of only one of Romney’s suits.

Since this is probably going to be the most important, most photographed and most televised time in his life, he should come to the table looking like a grown man who knows what he’s doing. For now, he just looks like a high school sophomore who borrowed his dad’s clothes for the homecoming dance.



  1. Plus if I am not mistaken the RNC dropped a TON of money four years ago to dress up what’s-her-name. Maybe Mr. Ryan’s look is a calculated effort to look down-home. I don’t know. But on my visits to the Capitol I have always been impressed by the power-dressing of the powerful.

    So you have your work cut out for you, George. If anyone can do it, you can. Is The New Yorker aware of your work? They should be…


Talk to me...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.