Red, White and Fabulous? Fashion Tips from the Campaign Trail

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Appearance, as we know, plays an important role in politics -- and more than ever on today’s 24-hour, televised, digitized, Twitterized campaign trail.

It may seem like a relatively new, superficial phenomenon, but America has long been focused on what its political leaders look like. FDR, for example, was rarely photographed or seen publicly in his wheelchair. Richard Nixon is widely considered to have lost a key 1960 televised debate with JFK because he refused to wear makeup. An ill-fitting shirt and poorly selected suit didn’t help either. And that was -- gasp! -- before color TV.

More recently, Sarah Palin’s pricey outfits, John Kerry’s frilly ties and a shirtless Paul Ryan’s pecs have come under the microscope. And don’t forget President Obama’s disastrous “mom jeans” moment while throwing out the first pitch at the MLB All-Star Game a few years back.

Clothes, we’re told, make the man (or woman), and when it comes to presidential politics, the right ones just may help secure your spot in the Oval Office. The same often holds true in the business world. A red tie or dress can symbolize strength and passion, while blue conjures up a more calming effect. What you wear in front of your employees, at a meeting with an important client or at a pitch session with investors can swing the undecided in your favor.

With that in mind, we rounded up a panel of entrepreneurs with keen sartorial sensibilities to serve as our Election 2012 fashion police -- Peyton Jenkins and Colin Hunter, co-founders of Alton Lane, a custom men’s clothier with locations in New York, Washington and Boston; Olga Vidisheva, founder of Shoptiques, an online shopping portal for boutiques across the U.S. and in Paris; and the always-dapper, never-bashful Billy Leroy, owner of Billy’s Antiques & Props in New York and star of the Travel Channel’s Baggage Battles.

We asked them to grade this year’s presidential and vice-presidential tickets -- and offer a few style lessons for entrepreneurs daunted by their own closets. Let the “voting” begin!