Donald Trump: Former president, criminal defendant – and style icon?

Donald Trump is no stranger to toadying praise from his admirers but even he might have been surprised by his former White House adviser Stephen Miller washing up on Fox News on Tuesday evening to declare his former boss not only “the most stylish president” in recent US history, but also an icon who had “changed American fashion”.

Apparently triggered by a New York Times article praising President Joe Biden as “dapper”, Mr Miller declared: “Can I just say, since we’re addressing the subject of style, the most stylish president and first lady in our lifetimes are Donald Trump and Melania Trump.

“Donald Trump is a style icon. He changed American fashion in The Apprentice. People spent the next 10 years trying to dress like Donald Trump.”

Few would dispute that the ex-first lady, a former model by profession, has an eye for (extremely expensive) clothes but her husband is a rather different proposition.

The Republican presidential candidate – currently spending four days a week scowling in court in New York as he fights the criminal case against him for allegedly falsifying his business records to conceal a hush money payment to a porn star – is nothing if not consistent in his approach to his wardrobe.

He is rarely seen in public wearing anything other than an over-large, billowing suit and a notably long red tie, occasionally adding a matching red MAGA cap, long winter coat and leather gloves for outdoor rallies in brisker weather.

Donald Trump looking fierce on the campaign trail in Michigan (Paul Sancya/AP)
Donald Trump looking fierce on the campaign trail in Michigan (Paul Sancya/AP)

The exception comes on his golfing days, when baggy slacks and tight white polo shirts do his figure few favours, particularly mid-swing.

Trump striking a pose on the golf course (Getty)
Trump striking a pose on the golf course (Getty)

Among the many responding to a viral clip of Mr Miller’s remarks on X was menswear expert Derek Guy, who ranked John F Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and even George HW Bush as snappier dressers than Mr Trump, a line-up from which Barack Obama might well feel justifiably aggrieved to be excluded.

Others relished responding with shots of the Republican populist looking at his most hangdog and dishevelled:

Mr Miller himself was also the subject of incredulous reaction, with many characterising his statement as typical of what Trump opponents characterise as the “cult-like” thinking of the MAGA movement.

During Mr Trump’s last stint in the White House, Mr Miller became associated with some of the president’s most controversial border policies, including the separation of migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, and was once quoted in The New Yorker as saying that limiting asylum is “all I care about”.

He has not previously attracted attention as a conservative fashionista in the Roger Stone mould. One X commentator posted: “If style was a person Stephen Miller would be a pair of Crocs.”

The 45th president’s fashion sense has come under the microscope before, with The Washington Post running an article in 2019 consulting a DC tailor about his awkward fits, leading on an unflattering photograph of Mr Trump sporting a too-tight tuxedo for a banquet at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II, in which Ezra Lizio-Katzen estimated that Mr Trump was prone to wearing suits at least two sizes too large so as to conceal his girth.

Queen Elizabeth II with then-President Trump at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2019 (AP)
Queen Elizabeth II with then-President Trump at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in 2019 (AP)