Red vs. Blue: Why Necktie Colors Matter

In high-stakes politics and business, there are only two colors of ties: red and blue. Oh, sure, you might spot purple or yellow now and then, but those are clear statements of aloofness, be they calculated or careless.

Few world leaders or CEOs want to be seen as aloof.

But does it matter whether one wears red or blue? Yes, suggest several studies, including one published in the journal Science on Feb. 6, 2009. More on that in a moment.

First, some color:

Tonight (Feb. 28), during his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump wore a blue and white striped tie. Seated behind Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, both wore blue ties.

For his inauguration on Jan. 20, President Donald Trump wore a red tie with his dark suit, while outgoing President Barack Obama donned a blue tie. Their wives wore the reverse, with Michelle Obama in a red dress and Melania Trump wearing a powder blue ensemble. [The 15 Weirdest Presidential Inaugurations in US History]

In the first presidential debate of 2016, then-nominee Donald Trump donned a blue tie, while the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, wore a red suit. (Here’s more science on why everyone should wear red.) The Democrats may have decided on “red” during the election, as Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine donned a red tie during the first vice presidential debates on Oct. 4, while Trump’s running mate, then-Indiana governor Mike Pence sported a blue necktie.

In President Obama’s first 11 days on the job, he wore only red and blue ties, observed Daily News reporter Joe Dziemianowicz. “Obama represents something different in politics, but he dresses the same as everyone else,” said Esquire senior fashion editor Wendell Brown. “Washington, D.C., is a strange place when it comes to style. All the emphasis is on fitting in.”

At the inauguration in January 2009, Obama and Joe Biden seemed to coordinate efforts: “For the inaugural festivities, both executives chose predictable dark gray suits, white dress shirts, enlivened by either baby blue or red necktie,” wrote Lisa Irazarry of The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. “As Obama wore a blue necktie on Monday and Biden wore his blue Tuesday, maybe they prearranged not to duplicate each other alternating necktie colors.”

(Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush both had on plum overcoats and purple scarves at the inauguration. They can be aloof now. Plus, purple is associated with royalty and we do tend to treat our former presidents as such.)

Where’s all this come from?

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