Friday, February 26, 2010

Jennifer Granholm introduces Alan Mulally at NGA

Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan introduced Ford CEO Alan Mulally's remarks at the National Governors Association conference. She wore a red pantsuit:
The red jacket strikes again! The governor does ok with this choice, although I do think red jacket and red pants can be a lot for anyone. She does pull it off, mostly because she's slim. Her best colors are cool and more muted though. We also need to try to ignore the bright yellow lanyard that's covering up her lovely pearls...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Melanne Verveer reports on the potential of Afghan women and girls

Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer presented remarks on the diplomatic potential of Afghan women and girls before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. She wore an evergreen jacket with the collar turned up:

If you ever wondered how to make the "popped collar" work for you in a professional environment, this is how. The turtleneck under the jacket is the same color and she accented with jewelry under the jacket, not outside or anywhere near the lapel. This can be a great look for women who have concerns about the neck and chin, provided your hair is no longer than chin-length.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kay Bailey Hutchison campaigns in Arlington, TX

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is running for governor in Texas, made a campaign stop last week in Arlington. She wore green:

This grass green color is a good one for the Senator, but the styling of this jacket is giving us too much of a good thing. It's a lot of green, with buttons all the way up to the collar and no blouse to break up the color block or the line. A soft cream scarf over this jacket might have softened the look a little bit and brought our attention back to her face instead of the wall of green with bold black buttons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kathleen Sebelius: A Color Comparison

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed health insurance reform last week. She wore magenta:

This is a lot of color for her. If you're not sure, give it the "attention" test. Where does your eye rest when you look at her? On her face, or down on her jacket? I see the jacket. The Secretary can wear saturated colors, but she does better when they are cool and more muted.

Look at this example, when she spoke at Hunter College recently on the H1N1 vaccine:

This cool blue/green color is much less distracting. It's not that we don't see the jacket, it's just that we don't focus on it. This is also a great example of how to wear color and still look winter-appropriate.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kirsten Gillibrand discusses Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Kirsten Gillibrand went on the Rachel Maddow show last week to discuss the proposed repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She wore black:
This outfit is rather similar to what we saw Kathleen Sebelius wear to the Senate last week, with one key difference. While the Secretary wore a pink top under her jacket, Senator Gillibrand went with black. For someone with such fair coloring, this is a lot of stark black at once. The pearls against her skin, above the neckline instead of on the fabric, helps to soften this look, as does pink hued makeup.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blanche Lincoln on small business owners

Blanche Lincoln had a question for the president about small business owners at his recent remarks to the Senate Democratic Conference. She wore neutral colors:
The scarf provides a nice addition of pattern and color near her face, and the overall color palette keeps this look from being too busy. But scarf plus turtleneck plus blazer equals a lot of fabric up around the neck. If her sweater were a crew neck instead, this would be perfect.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hillary Clinton says Iran is becoming a military dictatorship

Hillary Clinton said Iran was moving toward a military dictatorship in a televised discussion with students at the Doha campus of Carnegie Mellon. She wore marine blue:
We already know that a deep vibrant blue is a strong color on her. What I want to discuss this time is her hair. The Secretary has a great hairstyle here. As her hair is getting a little bit longer, it looks great curled at the bottom and with just a little bit of volume at the crown. The curl helps to balance her face shape, but all of the styling is subtle enough that we careful observers are probably the only ones actively noticing it.

Here was can see the back as well as she greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia:

Unfortunately, when Secretary Clinton's hair gets flat or limp, it makes her look tired, so the extra amount of style time she put into her hair for this event was worth it. She looks healthier and more powerful. Looking tired never projects confidence or conviction.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper discusses statutory pay-go

Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper spoke on the House floor about statutory pay-go legislation. She wore leopard print. Don't be alarmed:
It probably goes without saying that animal prints can be tricky to wear in the public realm. There are two reasons why this outfit works:

1. Scale. This is a large leopard print, which makes it a bit more abstract and moves away from looking like she's literally wearing an animal skin.

2. Proportion. The amount the print in her outfit is limited to less than a quarter of what we can see on camera, and less than 10% of her entire outfit.

You can do it, just be aware of scale and proportion, and keep the rest of your outfit very simple. Really. Don't be afraid.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wearing patterns on television: Beware!

There are a lot of "rules" out there about what you should and shouldn't wear on television. In general, I don't like lists of rules. They rarely account for the individual, and everyone's look, style, and strengths are different.


You do have to be very careful about patterns, no matter who you are. This is not a question of whether something looks good on you (as we saw with Mary Landrieu's flowered scarf). Some patterns actually interact with the pixelization of your image as you move and create weird colors. For this reason, there are certain patterns you should avoid ever wearing on television:

Glen plaid


Chevron stripes, as Linda Murkowski did on the Senate floor recently:

Maybe eventually HD television will allow these patterns to re-enter our television appearance wardrobe, but for now, restrict them to office-only days!

(Glen plaid image by Kaushik Gopal, houndstooth image by Magnus Overengen)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Political fashion history: Bull Moose Party convention, 1912

Happy President's Day! Let's look at some historical women in politics today. Here is a group of delegates to the Bull Moose Party convention in Syracuse, some time between 1910 and 1915:

There's a lot to love in this photo. Let's look at the same-but-different jackets of the three ladies in front. One shawl collar, one sailor, one notched. One single breasted, one double breasted, one cord tie. Two dark color, one light. Two fabric hats, one straw. Was this look the "red jacket" of 1912?

For more on the party and their convention, have a look at the Theodore Roosevelt Association's website.

(Bain News Service photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Carly Fiorina: A color comparison

Senate candidate Carly Fiorina appeared on Glenn Beck's show recently. She wore red:

Although this is a red shirt and not a red jacket, I think it was probably chosen with the same goals in mind - to express power and patriotism in one broad swath of color. But when you see Ms. Fiorina on this show, do you look at her face or her shirt? All I can see is red because this color consumes her. She could be anyone. And an unadorned button down shirt is terribly unsophisticated for a woman as accomplished Fiorina. It's what we expect to see on an intern. Of course if you're going on Glenn Beck, the goal is approachability, not sophistication, so this is no time for a blazer and silk scarf. I would have gone for maybe a wool sweater in a fine gauge so as not to sweat too much under the studio lights. But our focus here is color...

She does so much better in cool, light colors, especially gray. Check out this discussion on health care:

Here, we see her face very clearly, especially her eyes. Most people look good in a medium gray, but Ms. Fiorina looks great in all shades, especially this light one. This is so much better than that overwhelming red!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sebelius testifies on health care proposals in 2011 budget

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Senate Finance Committee last week on the 2011 budget. She wore pinstripes:

The key to this outfit is the pink shell under her jacket. It warms up her face and keeps the pinstripes from looking too harsh. Pearls and a brooch also provide feminine influence.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kaptur questions Geithner on AIG bailout

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio questioned Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the AIG bailout at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last month. She wore winter white:

The Congresswoman's outfit provides a good example of how to wear light colors in the winter. The key is fabric and texture. In this case, her jacket is quilted, giving it a seasonal look. This works much better than when we saw Michele Bachmann wear white in December.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ellen Tauscher on nuclear arms deal with Russia

Under Secretary of State for Arms and International Security Ellen Tauscher discussed a nuclear arms agreement with Russia at a news conference in Paris last week. She wore brick red:

Notice the placement of her brooch, high on the shoulder towards the outside. By keeping the size small and the placement off the lapel, it doesn't interfere with her bold necklace. I could do without the crooked name tag, but we'll live with it.

Her hair is well-styled, but her highlights are a bit too dramatic. She would do better with more brown and less honey blond mixed in.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nora Volkow discusses the Monitoring the Future Survey on drug abuse

Dr. Nora Volkow, who heads up the National Institute on Drug Abuse, went on camera to discuss the results of the Monitoring the Future Survey in 2009. She wore a taupe jacket:

We could talk about how Dr. Volkow would look better in some color, like a warm grass green. Or we could talk about how she has the opposite problem from Lisa P. Jackson - her brows are a bit under-groomed. But I would instead like to talk about a crucial step in dressing to go on camera: the last second check.

Presumably it goes without saying that when you know you're going on camera, you should take great care in getting dressed. But no matter how carefully you dressed in your bedroom or your office or the green room, you're not done until you take one more look in a mirror right before you go in front of the lens. If Dr. Volkow had done that, she would have noticed that her necklace is crooked and caught under her lapel, and that her hair is a little bit tangled on her forehead. It's also your chance to see lipstick on your teeth, bra straps peeking out and any other bits that can shift in the journey to the camera. It's not vain. It's absolutely necessary. These are small details that need to be fixed, but they're so distracting.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sarah Palin delivers keynote at National Tea Party Convention

Sarah Palin delivered the keynote speech at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville yesterday. She wore a black suit:

In fact, she wore all black - black skirt suit, sheer black hose and very high black platform heels. Those heels, along with a long rope necklace partially hidden under her lapel, remind me of the chic look she became known for during her 2008 Vice Presidential campaign. But this black monochrome color palette and the looser tailoring of the suit are clear (and successful) attempts to downplay her wardrobe choices which caused so much controversy. I'm almost certainly not the only one writing about what she wore yesterday, so she gave us very little to write about, which was a shrewd choice.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nancy Pelosi advocates pay-as-you-go legislation

Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed pay-as-you-go legislation this week on the House floor. She wore a red dress:

It's somewhat surprising that given the popularity of dresses as work wear in the last five years that we don't see more dresses in Congress, so I like this choice. But my concern here is the fit. It looks too big. Her chest is completely lost, making the top look more like armor than clothing. And although the style of the dress has full sleeves, we're still seeing too much fabric up around the upper arms - see how it's bunching around the armpits? If it doesn't fit, it doesn't matter how great the style is.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Linda McMahon on her run for Senate

Linda McMahon appeared on local television last week to discuss her run for Senate this year. She wore boots!

Knee-high boots don't always work for a professional look, but in this case they do. First, they're brown, which is a bit less harsh than black. Secondly, her complete outfit is demure and not too formal. The autumn color palette keeps each element - dress, sweater, and boots - pulled together. The length of her skirt is so important here. If you sit down on the couch, it's important that your entire thigh is covered, lest you be mistaken for a starlet on Letterman.

I wish the boots fit her a little bit better, to avoid that bunching around the ankle, but overall this is a very effective outfit. If you remember all the, um, attention Condoleezza Rice got for wearing knee high boots a few years ago, I can understand if you're hesitant to try this, but you really can do it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hilary Clinton: A color comparison

Last week, Secretary Clinton made remarks on fighting Al-Queda in Yemen at a summit in London. She wore a bright purple blazer:
This color clearly overwhelms her. It's all we can see. The problem is actually that this is too warm for her, I think. It's certainly not that she can't wear saturated color. When she met with the Kurdistan Regional Government, she wore vibrant blue:
This suit looks great on her, even with the necklace in the same color, because it's the right color.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Senator Murkowski reacts to the State of the Union

Senator Lisa Murkowski used the Senate television studio to film her reaction to the State of the Union address. She wore a turtleneck under a jacket:

Obviously, Senator Murkowski and her staff have not been reading this blog. Remember when we discussed how she looks so much better in blue? Still true. This color makes her complexion look ruddy and her skin blends into her hair.

Blues are better. She would look great in this navy blazer with contrast lapel by Tibi, for example.