World leaders looking awkward in traditional clothes - a brief history

Matthew Champion@matthewchampion
Monday 30 November 2015 13:50
Viral

The above photo of Barack Obama, taken before a gala dinner in Kuala Lumpur last week, got us thinking.

The US president somehow managed to pull off pairing a traditional songket shirt with a Fitbit Surge smartwatch, but many other western leaders lack Obama's panache.

Especially when it comes to ponchos.

(Apec summit in Santiago, Chile, 2004)

The George W Bush era was a bit of a golden age for silly shirts.

(Apec summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, 2006)

Just to be clear, there's nothing silly about traditional Vietnamese ao dai silk tunics. Only when people like this wear them:

We don't really know how anyone gets any work done at Apec summits.

(Apec summit in Lima, Peru, 2008)

Maybe this is the real reason they get together in the first place.

(Apec summit in Shanghai, China, 2001)

To be fair to Bush (ha!), he wasn't the first...

(Apec summit in Bogar, Indonesia, 1994)

... and nor was he the last.

(Apec summit in Beijing, China, 2014)(Apec summit in Beijing, China, 2014)

Not Even Obama could pull off the infamous 'Star Trek' uniforms.

(Image via Gawker)

The main reason UK political leaders get off relatively lightly...

(Amritsar, India, 2013)

... is mainly because they don't attend Apec summits. But luckily we have our royal family to pitch in. They seem to especially like receiving maori cloaks.

Nothing comes close, however, to this:

What a time to be alive.

All pictures Getty unless otherwise indicated

More: 29 photos that are better without context

More: Politicians and awkward photos - A brief history

Trending