Fashion in politics: the good

Fashion in politics


Leaders of nations, how little of interest you may find them, are, in fact, in an interesting position when it comes to what they wear. They need to strike a fine balance between respectability, representing the values of their country, distinctiveness and, most importantly, appropriateness. The great majority of politicians don’t bother with any of these, but those that do make an effort at least show some consideration for their role.


An honourable mention must first and foremost be made to the late Nelson Mandela, a man whose very life brought colour back into our lives, with his incredible shirts also playing a part in that. Distinctive, comfortable, modern and quintessentially (South) African, which is to say welcoming, Madiba seemed to have an effortless sense of style. Everyone should on occasion wear a Madiba shirt.



To continue with the pursuit of fashion in the world of politics now feels almost sordid, but it is the fashion that is the subject of this piece and less so the politics. Still firmly rooted in Africa I now present a trio of hat-wearing presidents for your consideration.

Goodluck Jonathan – president of Nigeria

Wearing his signature fedora and dark, subtly ethnic shirt with golden butterfly chain, Goodluck Jonathan comes across as recognisable, charming and very classy.


Hifikepunye Pohamba – president of Namibia

What looks like a bowler hat places the finishing touch on the conservative and imposing figure that is Namibia’s president.


Salva Kiir Mayardit – president of South Sudan

With a black stetson as his statement piece, Salva Kiir looks every bit the new sheriff in town. But don’t the bad guys wear black hats? Regardless, he’s got some law to dish out.


Evo Morales – president of Bolivia

Evo Morales has nothing to prove. If he’s not wearing a jacket with panels of Andean patterning, he’s wearing the sweater that set off a minor craze. Evo knows how to dress for the people.


Barack Obama – president of the USA

Conservative and yet still looks like he’s at the head of the enormous power that he is. Do not underestimate the efficacy of simplicity, a good fit and a touch of blue. The white shirt, tie and rolled up sleeves are surely becoming his signature.


Sultan Qaboos bin Said – Sultan of Oman

It’s East meets West for Sultan Qaboos, monarch of one of Arabia’s most low-key and prosperous countries. In the morning he might be seen in a dashing white admiral’s uniform, the afternoon in camouflage and in the evening it’s a colourful turban when welcoming Queen Elizabeth.


Prince Charles – Prince of Wales

The crown prince of the United Kingdom is our only European candidate for the reason that he proudly upholds the attire of the English gentleman. The young ones of the family better not think they’re too good for tweed.


Vladimir Putin – president of Russia

There’s something decidedly James Bondian about Vladimir Putin, the outdoorsman, marksman and ex-KGB agent of the Russian Federation. His appearance is strong yet cool like a fine vodka.


Also featuring:

King Leruo Molotlegi – King of the Royal Bafokeng

For keeping the sun at bay in a stylish way.



Entry by Christiaan Naudé

Image sources in order of appearance:

        Nelson Mandela:;

        Goodluck Jonathan:

        Hifikepunye Pohamba:

        Salva Kiir Mayardit:

        Evo Morales:

        Barack Obama:

        Sultan Qaboos:

        Prince Charles:

        Vladimir Putin:

        King Molotlegi:


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