President’s Day Suits & Suites

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

President’s Day has arrived. While most government workers and many students enjoy a day off, the rest of us are aware of it it only because of an automatic notation in our smartphone calendar, an event that we seldom celebrate – unless you’re visiting “Crazy” Larry at Neessen Chevrolet for their President’s Day Clearance Sale.

"Crazy" Larry Johnson

"Crazy" Larry Johnson

I’ve been selling GM Products for over 33 years in the Corpus and Kingsville area. I have been a part of the Neessen team for 22 years. 


Back to President’s Day.

The President of the United States is often referred to as the “Leader of the Free World”. This reference indicates the global dominance of the United States in military and economic and popular culture since the end of World War II.

America’s influence is significant and the American President does hold a distinctive position in the pantheon of global leaders. As we reflect on the Monday of Presidents, may this article inspire our current commander-in-chief to step out and show some leadership in an area that the seemingly endless succession of navy-blue-suited leaders of the past 50 years sorely need. Yes, fashion. While the office of the President should be treated with great respect, may I submit that it could also do with a touch of style?

Check out the original G.W. resplendent in his breeches and waistcoat during the first Inauguration.

That’s a bold look with sumptuous fabric and of course, gorgeous shoes. If the hipsters were serious about their skinny pants, they should borrow something from Prez Washington’s closet.

Next in the pantheon of Presidents (although first in my opinion as the most influential American politician of all time) is my son’s namesake, Abraham Lincoln. Note the bowtie. I’m not sure if that’s a tie or a fat ribbon but one thing’s certain – he tied it himself. The resurgence in bow ties in the past decade does my heart good, but when is a modern American President going to sport one outside of a tuxedo? I would think President Obama, former law professor, could certainly pull it off. Come on Barack, rock a dicky with a nice tweed coat.

Lastly, but by no means leastly, is the beastly President William H. Taft. The man famous for being so large he got stuck in the White House bathtub, knew a little about style. I guess when you are 6 feet tall and tip the scales at over 300 pounds, not many people are going to tell you how to dress. Not that he would have listened. 

After all, Taft rode a water buffalo. Poor buffalo.

Though that seems like a real party, when it came time to show up at the club, Taft was leading the way. Here’s my personal favorite, as big Taft absolutely nailed the 1970’s ghetto-fabulous look about 70 years ahead of schedule.

Cool threads all the way around from Washington, Lincoln and Taft. They each were distinctive and reflected their personalities. We could do with more of that from our Presidents nowadays. And, if Obama wanted to show out with some fresh duds, what better place than The Homestead Resort, the oldest continually operating hotel in America where 22 Presidents have stayed? It opened in 1766 and hasn’t stopped offering great room service, hot natural springs, and stunning views since.

On a personal note, I had the joy of retreating to the Taft Presidential Suite at The Homestead, and I’ve not been the same since. 

This amazing hotel is located near the Virginia/West Virginia border, and if you ever have the chance to visit, you won’t regret it. On occasion, you can get a special discount that would make a stay at the Taft Presidential Suite affordable. It’s got an oversized bathtub and a closet just for your furs. Unfortunately, the water buffalo rides are no longer allowed but if you linger long enough, the breakfast buffet will make you feel like one.

As we look to our President for leadership and inspiration, I’d like to petition Mr. Obama to take a chance with his style. He’s the closest thing to Joe Cool since Calvin Coolidge, so why not?  When I say take a chance, this isn’t what I have in mind…