John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s newest Democratic Senator-elect and former Lieutenant Governor, has been widely criticized for his workwear fashion sense. However, we’re here to say we love it, and emphasize that his self-described “*negative* fashion sense” hasn’t stopped him from landing seat on Capitol Hill, and proves you don’t need to be buttoned up in a suit to resonate with voters.
With an affinity for durable, rugged brands like Carhartt and Dickies, Fetterman has gone from being the mayor of a steel-mill town called Braddock to being Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, and now has made a successful run for the U.S. Senate. While his atypical physical appearance at just under 7 feet tall with a goatee and a plethora of tattoos may seem like a threat to a successful career in American politics, Fetterman proves he’s the exception to undermine the rule.
He was acknowledged as a style icon in GQ in 2020 for his notably practical Carhartt attire, which he later described on Twitter as “negative fashion sense.” In a 2021 Medium blog post detailing his tattoos he opened with “I do not look like a typical politician, nor do I look like a typical person. I even lack the political metaphorical sleeves to roll up — all I ever wear are short-sleeve work shirts because hard work is the only way to build out communities back up.”
Carhartt is an iconic workwear brand that’s seen a surge in popularity over the past three to four years. SPY has published Carhartt style guides in the past, and Fetterman proves that it truly is clothing for everyone — even a U.S. Senator.
Of course, as a senator, Fetterman will have no choice but to upgrade his wardrobe. And although he left his work pants at home in exchange for a suit and tie for his first day on the job, we know he hasn’t left his true workwear self behind. He verified on Twitter that the simple two-button getup and blue tie are the only suit he owns, potentially a first in PA lieutenant governor history.
He noted in the comments “If they’d let me, I’d totally preside over the senate in shorts. Curse you pa senate dress code.” And we believe him, he even sat for his official government portrait wearing a Dickies work shirt.
While other politicians wearing casual clothes in conventionally formal environments might reflect a superficial attempt to appeal to the “everyday American” and virtue signal to middle and lower class, with John Fetterman it feels authentic. We believe he’s not just pandering in exchange for votes and funding, but really doesn’t give a damn about what he’s “supposed” to look like, and wears exactly what he feels most comfortable in. Perhaps walking around your entire life at a grand stature does that to you.
John Fetterman’s Best Carhartt Looks
Per the Senate dress code, Fetterman is going to be spending many days in a suit come being sworn in as a U.S. Senator in January. So we wanted to take a walk down memory lane and relive some of his most iconic looks thus far in his political career. Note, there aren’t many of them, the man clearly spends more time connecting with working-class communities than he does picking out his outfit.
In a sea of stuffy designer suits filled with men with antiquated views, let’s all be Fettermans — humble, hard-working and ready to roll up our proverbial sleeves made of durable, thick, American-made fabric.
1. Classic Carhartt Hoodie
We all have those pieces that make us feel most comfortable, most like ourselves. Clearly this black hoodie from Carhartt is that for John Fetterman. He’s worn it many times on the campaign trail and donned it the night he was elected to Congress during his acceptance speech. In fact, most pictures on his Instagram page are of him in this exact hoodie giving speeches, on talk shows and even smiling next to Barack Obama. He also has it in white.
Clearly his children love a good hoodie and shorts moment as well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the Pennsylvania-grown tree.
Carhartt Loose Fit Midweight Graphic Sweatshirt — Black
This black hoodie, specifically, is Carhartt’s classic design complete with a Carhartt logo on the middle pouch and name written along the side. It’s got a cotton blend, a durable hood and can be layered on top of and underneath. It’s a no-frills, everyday wardrobe staple that may even land you in higher office.
Carhartt Loose Fit Midweight Graphic Sweatshirt — Malt
The same sweatshirt as above, in a malt colorway with gold lettering on the side. Fetterman wears this one less often, presumably when the black one is in the wash, but it sends the same message. Durable cotton and layering are key.
2. Basketball Shorts and a Slim Puffer Jacket
We can’t think of a more perfect outfit for a chilly yet sunny morning. Here Fetterman is seen wearing grey basketball shorts, comfortable running shoes and a slim Carhartt blue puffer we can only assume is layered on top of his favorite black hoodie for extra warmth. He has his Carhartt puffer jacket in a few different colors because he’s nothing if not consistent.
You can recreate this comfortable, no-frills outfit here.
Carhartt Lightweight Insulated Jacket
This is a more muted blue than Fetterman’s, but it’s a similar-looking jacket that’s equally as rugged from his beloved Carhartt. It’s designed to keep you warm without adding bulk, weighing just 1.75 ounces, and has enough space for inner and outer layers.
Nike Dri-FIT Icon Grey Men's Basketball Shorts
These Nike basketball shorts are perfect for working out, lounging or hitting the polls with your vintage collector wife. They’re built for mobility, have Nike’s Dri-FIT technology for drawing moisture away from the skin and the elastic waistband gives you the flexibility a practical man wants and needs.
Nike Men's Revolution 6 Running Shoes
These middle-of-the-pack running shoes from Nike are a great compliment to the easy outfit above, and are neutral enough to go with almost anything. The rubber sole and foam midsole combine for premiere comfort, and they’re lightweight for easy packability.