OFF-DUTY STYLE

John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama & More Presidents’ Style Off-Duty (PHOTOS)

Few know how to relax in style like they do. From Obama’s khakis to Clinton’s short-shorts, see highlights.

AP, Getty (2), Zuma

AP, Getty (2), Zuma

Spring is in the air—and with it comes the glimmer of escape, beckoning summer vacations and warmer climates. What better way, then, to celebrate the coming season than through those who did it best: the American presidents, who each made a unique sport of relaxation. From JFK’s preppy nonchalance in Hyannis Port to Bill Clinton’s short-shorts, see the best style of our presidents off-duty. 

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

Barack Obama

Obama has become more fashionable during his eight years in the presidency. As he told Vogue: “Now in fairness, there is one thing that’s changed. Which is, I used to have, like, two suits.” And that style clearly extends out of the office, too: the president has been known for wearing a range of shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops on the beaches of Hawaii; and a similarly appropriate uniform of brightly colored polo shirts, khaki shorts, and golf shoes while on the links. Here, the president and first lady stride across the South Lawn on their way to a Baltimore basketball game—the president in his “casual attire” of khakis and a fleece.

Charles Ommanney/Getty

George W. Bush

Though he was famous for dark suits and blue ties while in office, W. looked mighty different away from Washington. During a vacation to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in August 2007, Bush wore his signature cowboy hat, jeans, and a “Navy” T-shirt while cutting cedar out on the wilds of the property. 

Wilfredo Lee/AP

Bill Clinton

Who wears short-shorts? President Clinton jogged through the 1990s in super-short running shorts, wide-brimmed caps, and tube socks—which became his out-of-office signature.

Tonee Harbert/AP

George H.W. Bush

The Bush family’s Kennebunkport compound was President George H.W. Bush’s favored getaway in both the cold and warm months. Here, he walks through the small seaside town’s streets in a presidential bomber jacket and fur hat—the trappings of a proper northern New England wintertime retreat.

Michael Evans/White House,via AP

Ronald Reagan

This past January, British diplomatic cables were released that detailed a correspondence between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in which he asked her for fashion advice in advance of a June 1982 horseback riding excursion with Queen Elizabeth. She responded: “Smart but casual, not formal riding attire.” That seems in step with Reagan’s normal riding attire: here, in 1982, Reagan and wife Nancy ride together at their private ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Bettman/Corbis

Lyndon B. Johnson

The rolling hills of Texas were a second home for Lyndon B. Johnson and wife Lady Bird during his five years in the White House. In July 1968, the first couple wandered through fields of wildflowers together—she in an orange skirt and sneakers. Looking a bit like John Wayne, the president wore an all-brown suit and—even in the Texan fields—a hat.

John F. Kennedy Library/Zuma Press

John F. Kennedy

When it comes to personal style, few presidents are as iconic as John F. Kennedy, who epitomized effortlessness and classic cool. It’s his style that may have the longest-lasting effect on the way American men present themselves today: he took hats out of fashion, and—in his summers in Hyannis Port, Mass.—ushered in a casual elegance with untucked shirts, pants tailored slightly short, and Ray-Ban sunglasses. It was the epitome of American ease. 

Fox Photos/Getty

Richard Nixon

On a wholesome 1953 beach outing, Richard Nixon, wife Pat, and daughters Julie and Tricia went for a breezy stroll during his first year as vice president. (He would be elected president 15 years later.) The couple typified 1950s style—except, perhaps, Nixon’s black socks—and their daughters’ frilly bathing suits created a pitch-perfect image of old-fashioned summer reverie.

Underwood Archives/Getty

Dwight Eisenhower

President Eisenhower took time away from the Oval Office during a 1953 golf outing at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo. His gingham-check shirt, pleated pants, straw hat, and saddle golf shoes are undeniably WASP-y, finding a fitting home on the golf course’s manicured lawns.

Corbis

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

FDR read the paper in style in the summer of 1926, poolside in Warm Springs, Ga. He wore a one-piece bathing suit and hat.

Corbis

William Howard Taft

By some accounts, William Howard Taft was the first “golfing” president—which he reportedly liked because “you cannot permit yourself to think of anything else” while you’re playing it. For a game in 1909, Taft adopted appropriate attire: a waistcoat and matching pants, topped with a golf cap. 

Oscar White/Corbis

Ulysses S. Grant

Even in the comforts of his own home—in Elberon, New Jersey—Ulysses S. Grant looked every bit the gentleman in a top hat and tails in 1872.