Trump has ’45’ embroidered on his shirt cuffs — but style experts say it’s a big mistake

AP/Carolyn Kaster

  • A photo taken of President Donald Trump’s notes during a conversation about guns prominently displayed his shirt cuffs.
  • Many noticed the “45” emblazoned on them, which is an obvious nod to his position in the lineup of US presidents.
  • Monograms are a huge debate in menswear, and many say they’re not a stylish choice.

It’s really easy to guess Trump’s favorite number.

It’s 45. Look, it’s right there on his shirt cuff, embroidered in blue for all to see. The monogram was most recently on display during a White House “listening session” that focused on gun control.

While a monogram typically uses an owner’s initials, Trump’s uses a logo that refers only to him and his place in the US presidential order. This is unusual, but it isn’t the first time Trump has taken the number “45” as his own — it’s also appeared on hats he’s worn.

Still, monograms are extremely controversial in men’s style circles. They’re basically a minefield in rules and taste.

Monograms have their roots in preppy style. Traditionally, they were an easy way to differentiate whose shirt was whose when they were all jumbled together in the laundry, presumably at an East Coast university.

We doubt that it serves the same functional style for the president. Some on Twitter called the president “narcissistic” for employing the monogram, while others derided his sartorial choices and compared them unfavorably to those of other world leaders.

Style experts have debated the merits of any kind of monograms on clothing for decades, and it’s a heated topic.

“The people most likely to be impressed by … embroidery are by definition allergic to the ideas that elegance is restraint and discretion the better part of not looking goofy,” men’s style expert Troy Patterson wrote in 2013 for Slate.

Most take less of a hardline against monograms and have nothing against them, provided they are discreet and limited. The air of personalization they give to a man’s wardrobe is alluring, after all. Even JFK was photographed with a monogram on his left breast in a picture published in 1960.

The choice of placement, however, is another place where guys can go wrong. While the cuff is one of several areas on dress shirts where men often place their monograms, Trump’s location choice is where he really went wrong.

Justin L. Jeffers, who runs the blog The Fine Young Gentleman, did not mince words.

“The place to not put your monogram is on the edge of the shirt cuff. I played around with this placement on a few shirts and could not get over the ever-presence of it, even when in a matching color to the shirt,” he wrote in 2013. “Never again.”

While a monogram can be subtle, one on the shirt cuff is the opposite of that. It peeks out, and with contrasting stitches, it draws the eye immediately, distracting from the rest of what you have to say. They face outward and are impossible to hide.

Still, there’s plenty of support for fans of monogrammed cuffs. Pinterest is full of inspiration for those who are daring enough, and most shirt companies will offer it as an option.

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