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Fashion leader says Barack's the new 'icon'

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Fashion,Barack Obama

Move over first lady Michelle Obama: It's your husband's turn as the nation's fashion icon.

Paul Trible, co-founder of Richmond, Va.'s Ledbury premium shirts, tells Secrets that the snappy dress shirts favored by President Obama that feature a wider "mid-spread collar" or full "spread" have prompted a sales spike especially among politicians and reporters eager to copy his more youthful look.

"He's a trend setter, that's fair when it comes to political clothing trends," said Trible, son of former Virginia Republican Sen. Paul Trible.

Trible, the face of the maker of high-end shirts popular among the MSNBC's Morning Joe team and politicians including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and former Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, said that Obama's preference has brought a sales slide for the standard was a button-down or downward pointed collar.

"Obama was one of the first politicians to challenge that with a mixed-spread or spread collar on a national stage," said Trible. "After he was elected, you saw it slowly happen in Washington where sort of that spread collar shirt became more and more popular, first with the Democrats and now even a large proportion of the Republicans are doing that over the traditional point or button down."

Trible, whose shirts cost about $125, said that the mid- or full-spread collar is "more of a statement" than Washington's usual uniform.

"He's a lean, fit guy so if suits him well. He certainly wears it well and I think people notice that it it's catching on around town," said Trible, who called Obama's shirts the leading trend in male fashion. "When you get to that level in politics, no matter if you are male or female, people are putting a lot of thought into what you are wearing and the statement that it makes."

As for those who prefer old-school button downs, Trible said, "they are not dead, but people more and more wear them on a casual basis than with a tie."

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.