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10 Presidential Fashion Flubs

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Some things about being the President of the United States haven't changed at all since Washington's tenure. While it's no longer common for the POTUS to ride a horse to his inauguration or occasionally participate in duels (as Andrew Jackson did), the scrutiny that comes with the position has been the same since the beginning... and that includes his fashion. Although the Obamas have been noted for injecting some modern style in the White House, even some of Barack's selections have been mocked. He's far from the first to take a little ribbing for his clothing choices, though. Here are 10 presidents who have been questioned for their lack of taste.

1. George Washington

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George Washington didn't want to be a king, but he did have the extravagant tastes of one: he liked to outfit his entire stable of horses in leopard-skin robes.

2. Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson sometimes greeted dignitaries while wearing his PJs. On one such occasion, British minister to the United States Andrew Merry was on the receiving end of Jefferson's casual attire. He was not happy about it, writing,

"I, in my official costume, found myself at the hour of reception he had himself appointed, introduced to a man as president of the United States, not merely in an undress, but ACTUALLY STANDING IN SLIPPERS DOWN TO THE HEELS, and both pantaloons, coat and under-clothes indicative of utter slovenliness and indifference to appearances, and in a state of negligence actually studied."

3. James Monroe

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Although the Revolutionary War had long since been over by the time James Monroe took his appointed post, he insisted on dressing as if the war was still raging on outside of the White House. That means britches, a buffcoat, a powdered wig and a cocked hat. It was outdated and a little bit odd.

4. William Henry Harrison

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Do you remember being a tween or teen and refusing to wear a coat even when it was bitterly cold out? Or is that just a battle that my parents had with me? Anyway, I guess that's one thing I have in common with ninth President William Henry Harrison. He delivered a nearly two-hour inauguration speech on a cold, rainy, blustery day, refusing to wear a coat, hat or gloves on the grounds that they would make him look weak. Uh, bad idea. He fell ill almost immediately and ended up dying shortly thereafter. To be fair, he probably died from round after round of horrific "treatments" he was subjected to, but still—dressing a bit warmer could have prevented his untimely death.

5. Zachary Taylor

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Zachary Taylor was so unconcerned about his appearance that he wore clothes and hats that were battered beyond belief. They were so worn and abused that it wasn't uncommon for people to see him out and about and mistake him for a farmer.

6. Chester A. Arthur

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Chester A. Arthur was the first president to hire someone for the position of full-time valet - the man was a clotheshorse! He was rumored to own more than 80 pairs of pants alone. This may seem normal for someone of his stature today, but it was quite extravagant for the 1880s.

7. Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Technically, this incident happened before Eisenhower was President, but it seems so out of character for the persona Ike had in public that I had to share it. Our 34th POTUS had a wild sense of humor while he was attending West Point - once when his commanding officer requested that he appear in his dress coat, Eisenhower complied. He showed up to the meeting wearing his dress coat and not a stitch of any other clothing.

8. Lyndon B. Johnson


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Lyndon B. Johnson used accessories to get him out of meetings. When he found himself listening to someone drone on and on, he would set off the alarm on his wristwatch to get them to shut up. Charming.

9. Richard Nixon

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Richard Nixon's fashion faux pas wasn't because of something he wore himself - it was because of the "uniforms" he had made for the White House police force. They had all kinds of flair, from epaulets to embroidery to fashionable caps. After he was roundly ridiculed for the ensembles, which looked more like marching band uniforms than official police gear, he donated them to - what else - a marching band in Iowa. Supposedly. I couldn't find what specific school he donated them to. Anyone know?

10. Barack Obama

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Last year, Obama was mocked when he wore a pair of "dad jeans" to throw out the first pitch at the MLB All-Star game. "I am a little frumpy," he said. "Those jeans are comfortable, and for those of you who want your president to look great in tight jeans, I'm sorry - I'm not the guy. It just doesn't fit me. I'm not 20."

Any other presidential fashion faux pas come to mind? I seem to recall that GWB owned a particularly loud pair of cowboy boots with his initials on them, but maybe that's not so odd for a Texan.

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History
The Funky History of George Washington's Fake Teeth
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo

George Washington may have the most famous teeth—or lack thereof—in American history. But counter to what you may have heard about the Founding Father's ill-fitting dentures, they weren't made of wood. In fact, he had several sets of dentures throughout his life, none of which were originally trees. And some of them are still around. The historic Mount Vernon estate holds the only complete set of dentures that has survived the centuries, and the museum features a video that walks through old George's dental history.

Likely due to genetics, poor diet, and dental disease, Washington began losing his original teeth when he was still a young man. By the time he became president in 1789, he only had one left in his mouth. The dentures he purchased to replace his teeth were the most scientifically advanced of the time, but in the late 18th century, that didn't mean much.

They didn't fit well, which caused him pain, and made it difficult to eat and talk. The dentures also changed the way Washington looked. They disfigured his face, causing his lips to noticeably stick out. But that doesn't mean Washington wasn't grateful for them. When he finally lost his last surviving tooth, he sent it to his dentist, John Greenwood, who had made him dentures of hippo ivory, gold, and brass that accommodated the remaining tooth while it still lived. (The lower denture of that particular pair is now held at the New York Academy of Medicine.)

A set of historic dentures
George Washington's Mount Vernon

These days, no one would want to wear dentures like the ones currently held at Mount Vernon (above). They're made of materials that would definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth. The base that fit the fake teeth into the jaw was made of lead. The top teeth were sourced from horses or donkeys, and the bottom were from cows and—wait for it—people.

These teeth actually deteriorated themselves, revealing the wire that held them together. The dentures open and shut thanks to metal springs, but because they were controlled by springs, if he wanted to keep his mouth shut, Washington had to permanently clench his jaw. You can get a better idea of how the contraption worked in the video from Mount Vernon below.

Washington's Dentures from Mount Vernon on Vimeo.

There are plenty of lessons we can learn from the life of George Washington, but perhaps the most salient is this: You should definitely, definitely floss.

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Pop Culture
11 Famous Men Who Used to Be Cheerleaders
Darren McCollester/Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Darren McCollester/Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When cheerleading was “born” on November 2, 1898, it looked a lot different than it does today. There were no tiny outfits, no wild stunts and—surprise!—no women. University of Minnesota student Johnny Campbell rallied a football crowd with the ad-libbed cheer, "Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!” and unwittingly became the father of cheerleading. (The school, by the way, still uses Campbell’s original cheer to this day.)

Soon after Campbell’s performance, the University of Minnesota organized a six-man “yell squad” and other colleges followed suit. Women didn’t really enter the picture until 1923. Although male cheerleaders are the minority today, there was a time when they were the vast—and loud—majority. Here are 11 famous examples of them.

1. GEORGE W. BUSH

Future president George W. Bush wasn't just a cheerleader at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in the 1960s: he was head cheerleader. And he’s in good company ...

2. AARON SPELLING

Aaron Spelling may have made his name behind the scenes as one of television's most prolific—and successful—producers, but he was front and center when he was head cheerleader at Southern Methodist University.

3. JIMMY STEWART


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Iconic actor Jimmy Stewart was also head cheerleader during his tenure at Princeton.

4. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

When he was no longer able to play football at West Point, Eisenhower decided to continue supporting his team by cheerleading instead.

5. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

FDR cheered for Harvard football in 1904, notably rallying the crowd for a particularly heated game against Brown.

6. SAMUEL L. JACKSON

Samuel L. Jackson lent his legendary voice to the squad at Riverside High in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

7. STEVE MARTIN


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Steve Martin tried to write cheers for the squad he was on, but has said “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs” didn’t go over too well.

8. TRENT LOTT

Former Mississippi senator Trent Lott was a cheerleader at Ole Miss.

9. RONALD REAGAN


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ronald Reagan cheered on his basketball team at Eureka College in Illinois.

10. AND 11. KIRK DOUGLAS AND MICHAEL DOUGLAS

Before he was an actor, Kirk Douglas honed his performance skills as a cheerleader at Amsterdam High School in Amsterdam, New York. As with acting, Kirk's son Michael also followed in his dad's footsteps in cheerleading; he was on the squad at Choate.

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