After hearing the different arguments from the different parties (and their supporters) during their campaign for the General Election 2010, I finally made my decision on who to vote for today. (Team Brown, incase you’re wondering). Please don’t be mistaken – politics is definitely not my forté – I get very bored by the seemingly empty promises, playground cattiness (yes, I mean the men), and continual feeling that politicians are just not listening to the people of Britain; but I am a believer in using my vote, even if I’m really stuck and just vote Green.
On a lighter note, the campaigners have struck a note with me in another department: fashion. Well, not the campaigners really: their better halves’ wardrobe choices have interested me greatly during the campaign. Whenever photos of David Cameron are published, my eye is immediately drawn to Samantha Cameron. The same goes for the Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown. And the other one, Mrs Clegg.
Politics and style have always had a bit of a thing for each other. A love-hate relationship, it’s been judged and analysed by the public for years: proof is in the “Style Files” on Vogue.com – one for each of the three candidates’ wives (and then some) for fashionistas across the globe to “ooh” and “ah” and “oh no she di’nt!” over. Today’s daily news on the style-bible website gives advice on how to show your sartorial support when wearing the party colours.
For over fifty years, political style has most definitely evolved. Perhaps the most chic First Lady of them all, Jackie Onassis was famous as much for her oversize sunglasses and pillbox hats than her Presidential husband. In contrast, Maggie Thatcher wore her ladylike handbags with a variety of power suits (teamed with the dullest hair on earth) in an attempt to prove to her opposition that she was a tough old nut who wouldn’t budge an inch. Perhaps her shoulder pads were taken on to help weight her down?
More recently, we have returned to easy-on-the-eye presidential fancies. Last year, former model, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, arrived in the UK on the arm of the French President for their state visit wearing a sh*t load of Dior. Apparently, her choice of designer was an attempt to unify the respective countries through fashion; paying homage to both Christian Dior, possibly the best French couturier there ever was, and Brit-boy fashion genius, John Galliano, who has held the title of Design Director at the French fashion house for almost fifteen years. Mrs Sarkozy looked gorgeous the entire trip, choosing low heels to complement her short hubby and staying graceful and demure at all times. I’m afraid to say it, but don’t you think she seemed a bit pathetic though? Like, giiirl, if you wanna wear platforms, wear platforms!
Another politi-candy is First Lady of Fabulousness, Michelle Obama. She has shown the world that it is ok for a powerful, strong woman to look feminine and pretty without the risk of losing votes. She harmonises perfectly with her husband, but she doesn’t come over as a pushover. She’s a woman in control and her fashion credentials don’t belittle this. Dare she nip in her waist with a clear Sonia Rykiel belt? Won’t the opposing parties consider that a weakness in the White House? Um no, it just means she looks nice.
Mrs Obama clearly doesn’t need to create a visually strong woman by striding forth in a navy pant suit, or to portray herself as an obedient lap-dog to her master. She is comfortable wearing brightly coloured Jason Wu while supporting her husband, but she is just as comfortable rolling up her sparkly J Crew cardigan sleeves and mucking in; her Let’s Move initiative for child obesity is a great example.
The political fashion cycle has now hit this side of the pond as we gear up to vote for the General Election today, and with the candidates’ campaigns being delivered around the same time as the spring/summer collections hit the stores, it’s little wonder our thoughts have drifted to their wives’ fashion choices.
Inevitably, Samantha Cameron comes up trumps. This is probably thanks to her creative position at luxury leather goods company, Smythson. Since she was slammed for carrying a £950 Nancy bag from Smythson a few years ago, she’s since been thinking on a voter’s level, mixing her designer labels with Britain’s trusty high street. She’s flitting from Philip Lim (2008 collection, mind) to Cos (high-end high street); she’s teaming a Vivienne Westwood dress with a Zara blazer and wedges; she’s choosing Topshop and Holly Fulton – securing youth votes and fashion votes, respectively, yes?
Next up, the Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown has transformed from her somewhat predictable blazer/jacket uniform into curve-friendly dresses from Issa and current fashion darling, Erdem. Accessories play a key part in Mrs Brown’s wardrobe – brightly coloured necklaces and opaque tights are regular fixtures in her newfound fashion-savvy wardrobe, bringing her look bang up to date while staying true to her figure. Gok would be proud.
Lastly, Miriam Clegg, the underdog’s wife (and if we were voting for fashion, I’m afraid she’d still be the underdog), is more practically minded with her cropped trousers/blazer/wedge combos. She does wear dresses – safe ones that aren’t fitted to her figure, don’t scream “look at me” and are basically there simply to do the job of being dressed. Maybe this is a subtle nod to her husband’s work ethics – there to get the job done with no fuss? Even her accessories are functional: her Bimba & Lola satchel goes everywhere with her and with the long strap, can easily be slung across her body when greeting voters, or bundled into one hand for a slightly more chic take.
Irrelevant of what sartorial choices Mrs Brown, Mrs Cameron or Mrs Clegg choose today, hopefully people will be out in force to have their say in Britain’s future by using their vote. At this time, I believe that our country needs honesty, stability and a realistic vision, and I have cast my vote with this in mind. As for the rest of you, well, the choice is yours to make. Don’t forget to dress well for the occasion though – if the country goes to ruins, at least we’ll look fabulous while it crumbles.