Thursday, June 24, 2010

The iconography of stripes

The opening of the Read My Pins exhibit at the Smithsonian got me thinking about the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we can send with what we wear. And then I happened to see this clip of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:

First of all, these sharply contrasting stripes are awfully harsh for her. Your eye goes straight to the jacket, and her face starts to look pale by comparison. But secondly, there's the cultural reference of black and white stripes to contend with. No one is going to mistake Secretary Napolitano for a prisoner while appearing on CNN, but it's not an inference I would even want to suggest if I she were my client.

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