This week marked the first of three highly touted presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The night produced a healthy dose of zingers, memes, and GIF-worthy moments. But one of the other moments that stood out was about fashion. Moderator Lester Holt questioned Trump about a statement in which he said Clinton didn’t have the presidential look. He went on to clarify that he was actually referring to her stamina. What exactly is a presidential look, though? Some would argue that the beard makes the man. If so, then these former Presidents with beards were some of the most presidential guys to ever take up office at the White House.
Abraham Lincoln’s Beard
Abraham Lincoln is known for a lot of things: his tragic and dramatic death, his role in ending slavery, the Thirteenth Amendment. But maybe the most memorable part of his tenure as President was his beard. It was a bushy beard that perfectly hugged his jawline; trimmed so that it never reached his cheekbones even when it was fully grown.
Prior to his stint as the commander-in-chief, Lincoln never sported a beard. It was only after an 11-year-old supporter penned a letter asking him to grow out his whiskers that he started. Luckily he listened to her because his beard became iconic-one of the most influential beards in history.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Mustache
Theodore Roosevelt was credited with bringing a new energy to the White House as the 26th president of the country. He focused heavily on the environment, preserving more than 200 million acres of reserves during his time in office. He worked to prevent monopolies with the Sherman Antitrust Act. And he even won a Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War.
More importantly, he was one of only nine presidents in U.S. history to rock facial hair. Despite his game-changing political approach, he didn’t get too progressive with his look. He wore a fully grown, bushy moustache but kept his cheeks cleanly shaven. There’s only so much change one man can orchestrate.
William Howard Taft’s Moustache
Taft was a unique president because he’s the only one to have held the country’s top position as well as the role of Chief Justice of the U.S. He went on to teach at the prestigious Yale University after his time in office. A remarkable, groundbreaking career needs a matching look. Like Roosevelt, Taft sported only a moustache. But where Roosevelt’s was bushy, dark, and full, Taft’s was thin and white with dramatically curled edges. He may not get as much aesthetic credit as Lincoln, but this look was just as iconic.
Ulysses S. Grant’s Beard
Ulysses S. Grant was one of Lincoln’s biggest supporters and allies. He worked with Lincoln to protect the rights of African-Americans and end Confederate nationalism. He also worked tirelessly to promote economic prosperity, however, his second term led to a terrible depression. Aside from his platform, his other clear Lincoln affiliation was his beard. And perhaps he could have taught his buddy a thing or two about how to wear it.
Grant’s whiskers were a cool mix of salt and pepper gray that he kept neatly trimmed. Far enough past stubble to show some bearded masculinity but refined enough to show he was in charge.
James Garfield’s Beard
Garfield achieved a lot in his six-month stint as president. He ended corruption in the Post Office, appointed a Supreme Court justice, and fought back against the Senate’s crippling control. But he also rocked the mightiest beard of any president. It was fully grown and borderline unkempt. He was like a lumberjack in the Oval Office. But as we can see, it takes a tough look to get the hard work done quickly.
It turns out the presidential look was far different back then. A more rustic man was behind some of the nation’s biggest changes. Though no presidents have let their facial hair grow in since 1913, the legacy of the beard in the White House will never be forgotten.