Wednesday, December 30, 2009

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on greenhouse gases

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson gave a press conference on greenhouse gases and climate change. She wore a silk blouse under her suit:

In general, I'm a great fan of pairing a silk blouse under a suit, even one with some sheen to it, like this one. But I think Ms. Jackson has a combination of wardrobe factors going on here that have conspired to create a look that is pretty, but perhaps not as professional as it could be. As I said, shiny silk is fine. A little bit of ruffle is fine. Together, probably still ok for the office, but not on the day you're giving a press conference.

There is a similar situation with her jewelry. Big hoop earrings (of good quality) are fine. A stylized cross is fine, on a rope instead of a chain, probably also acceptable at work, but not on camera.

Ms. Jackson has a great hairstyle. Very short looks can be work to maintain in terms of the frequency of the cut, especially when keeping your look consistent is important. In this video, I would guess that it was just cut, within a week or so, and probably looked even better a week or two after this. But short cuts can be great on women with straight hair and fuller faces. The very short bangs help keep this style looking current and youthful.

We know grooming is important, but there is such a thing as an over groomed eyebrow. Ms. Jackson might do well to back off the tweezers a little here and maybe even add some brow powder to her makeup bag.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Napolitano discusses air travel security on CNN

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano appeared on CNN to discuss the government's actions and reactions related to the attempted bombing in Detroit. She wore a stone jacket with a mandarin collar with a dark shell under it:

Secretary Napolitano is definitely going for sober here with her choice of neutral colors, but something more saturated like charcoal gray or medium navy might have suited her better. I'm also very concerned about the fit of this jacket - it appears too tight across the shoulders, which is why she's getting those little points sticking up above the natural slope of her shoulder. It can be difficult to find jackets that fit well when you have wider shoulders (as a woman or a man) but it is critical and can't be altered. If it doesn't fit in the shoulder, it doesn't fit.

Her makeup looks great. I wonder if she's wearing Benefit silky finish lipstick in nice knickers. A fantastic color for a lot of people, it's always selling out at Sephora...

Palin vs. Obama: A Manufactured Debate

I don't know whether you saw Cathy Horyn's piece in the New York Times last week on the styles of Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama. Given the Christmas Eve timing, I hadn't until the Mrs. O blog brought it to my attention. Mrs. T and her commenters largely get it right, and I encourage you to read.

Horyn's biases and contradictions have already been thoroughly highlighted, but if you ever wondered why Michelle Obama never appears in this space, it is precisely because of the false comparison Horyn tries to set up in her article. Their purposes and roles are fundamentally different. The First Lady is not elected, appointed or hired. It's a role, not a job. We're talking about the working women here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Michele Bachmann speaks at rally against Senate health care bill

Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared at a rally on Capitol Hill opposing the health care bill being debated in the Senate. Although it is December, she wore white:

This is a great looking jacket, but it's completely out of season. If I didn't know for sure that this happened last week, I would assume it was footage from earlier this fall. I don't hold very tightly to the idea of no white after Labor Day, but the style is summery too, not just the color.

Also, notice her necklace - it's so long it goes below the podium and out of the frame, which is distracting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I use video

I was asked this weekend to explain why I use video on this blog. There are two reasons, really:

1. Video lets us see the clothes, hair, face in motion. It mitigates the some of the risk that it's not a bad outfit, just a bad picture. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't get caught in a bad picture in the print and digital media, but in the interest of instruction on how to dress, we'd rather have as balanced a picture as we can.

2. Every woman I write about here is (or was) an elected or appointed official in our government. They all have something important to say. Image matters, but it doesn't matter more than their words. I don't ever want to reduce these women to images. I want to give you the opportunity to hear their words, which is why they got dressed that morning anyway.

I know video has ways of being inconvenient as well, but I hope the benefits outweigh the nuisance.

Senators Snowe and Landrieu discuss health care on Face the Nation

Senators Olympia Snowe and Mary Landrieu appeared on Face the Nation on Sunday to discuss their positions on the health care bill that will see a Senate vote this week. Senator Snowe wore green:

This color looks fresh and vibrant on the senator. The exaggerated notched collar on this jacket could look a little casual, but her black shell and pearl necklace keep it dressed up. The necklace also helps create a visual separation between the dark shirt and her dark hair.

Senator Landrieu wore red:

Because this jacket buttons all the way up, there isn't really an opportunity to break up the color with a contrasting blouse underneath, and this much warm red overwhelms the senator a bit. She does better in cool pastel colors. Less texture in the fabric would give a sleeker look too. The necklace is lovely, but it's delicate and it gets lost under this strong, structured jacket. Her hair looks perfect - this is a good color and length for her.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Barbara Boxer on Health Care

Barbara Boxer spoke about health care on the Senate floor last week. She wore a red jacket:

Tomato red is a good color for the senator. But the wide collar of this jacket combined with a turtleneck sweater makes for a heavy look - again, a bit like outerwear.

What I really want to talk about is her hairstyle. The shape of this cut works well for her face, although she could probably go with even a bit more length and do well. My concern is the color. The highlights have so much contrast that they've become distracting. The senator should consider brown her friend here. Darker hair and brighter makeup would actually look younger, I think.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pelosi on Job Creation

Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership held an outdoor press conference last week on job creation. Why our leaders insist on holding press events outside in December is a question for another forum. For now, we get to have a look at outerwear:

The first thing I noticed here, as I'm sure you did, is that most of the people here are not wearing coats at all. At least Harry Reid has an overcoat on. But the Speaker has this high button and a collar up to her chin that makes her look a little odd next to everyone else. We know from hearing her speak that she's feeling a little under the weather, but she would have done so much better with a scarf, even over the buttoned up collar. Camel is a nice color on her, but there's just so much of it.

And then there is the issue of her handbag. Does she really have a knot in the strap? Don't do that. Ever. A shoe and luggage repair can shorten the strap for you so easily. That little tail is so distracting.

Ambassador Rice speaks to the Security Council on Iran

Ambassador Susan Rice wore purple for her remarks on Iran to the Security Council last week. It's worth watching the whole video for two different angles on her outfit:

These colors work for her, as does the round scoop neck which is echoed by the shape of her necklace. My only concern here are her earrings. The dangling shape in this case is distracting, and the close match with her necklace makes for too much of the same design motif within a close space.

Please note that I did not deride her for being "matchy." There is a strong wave in the fashion press right now against "matching" but there's nothing wrong with it when done correctly. You just need to recognize when you have too much of a good thing.

Two Collars for Secretary Clinton

We've reviewed colors a few times in this forum, now let's have a look at collars. Hillary Clinton wore a lot of jackets this week, so we'll use her:

First, the Secretary wore hot pink for a statement on Honduras:

We've actually seen her wear this unusual collar shape before, but in red, when she met with the Prime Minister of Singapore. It's a good repeat - this shape works for her by creating some length to the neck with a lower V shape, but adding some structure to the look with the stand up collar around the neck itself.

The following day, she wore red for her remarks on Sudan:

This look is less successful. The high stance of this collar cuts the line of her neck in an unflattering way, and that shape combined with the double rows of buttons make this jacket look like outerwear, even though she's inside. The little bit of necklace peeking out the sides also looks strange, like she made some kind of mistake getting dressed, or again, maybe like she's wearing her coat indoors.

There is something to be said for sticking with what works!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Senator Feinstein holds intelligence nomination confirmation hearings

The Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings this week on intelligence nominations at the Departments of State and Homeland Security. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the chair, wore black.

The senator looks great, but her outfit is perhaps not quite appropriate for the occasion. The rich texture of the jacket, the reversed notch collar and the contrast piping are more appropriate to evening wear. The triple strand of pearls and the black shell under the jacket both add to the more formal feel of the outfit. A more casual necklace and a contrasting blouse could have dressed down the jacket and made the whole outfit more appropriate for daytime business wear.

Her hair is utterly perfect though. Like how we get the front and back views in this video? Sometimes hairspray is your friend.