Sunday, October 31, 2010

Theme dressing

Happy Halloween from Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer:

Wearing a Halloween costume or even a themed t shirt would not have been appropriate for a message that highlights Unicef's support work in Haiti. But look what she did here: her suit is in subtle shades of orange and black. This light pumpkin color is tough to wear, but it works for Ms. Brimmer. Her skin looks warm and healthy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Framing the message

Mary Fallin is running for governor in Oklahoma. She has something to say:

Her words may be about lower taxes and small government, but her jewelry communicates a separate message. It's not just that her necklace is a cross. The pendant is small, and wouldn't be much of a focal point without the help of the jacket neckline, which creates a distinct square frame around the pendant, drawing your eye in to it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Super sleeves

U.S. Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth has any number of wardrobe challenges as a double amputee and user of a wheelchair, but she consistently looks great. The primary focus of her look is typically on the top half of her body, particularly her shoulders. For this interview on the artificial limb research being done at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, she chose a blouse with an interesting sleeve. (She appears around 1:15)

This layered sleeve gives her a little extra volume at the top of the shoulder, and also allows free movement of her arms, which is obviously important for her in getting around.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bare arms are for late night talk shows

Condoleezza Rice appeared on the Daily Show last week. She chose a sleeveless dress and a very bold silver necklace:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Condoleezza Rice Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

This outfit reminds me of Michele Bachmann's outfit that got us talking about sleevelessness in the first place. But in this case, Dr. Rice is appearing on a late night talk show as part of her book tour. This is an evening event, and she's dressed for evening. She looks great.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breaking the rules

We were just talking the other day about how wearing a really bold necklace with dangling earrings is not a good idea.

Except sometimes it is:

The key for Joyce Elliott is an extremely short hairstyle, which keeps competing visual elements away from the earrings. Her bright yellow blazer also helps keep our attention focused on her, even with some very noticeable distractions behind her (flag, former president, etc).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A shade too far

We've seen Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon use bright color to great effect in the past. But check out this latest campaign ad:

This iris color is perhaps a bit too bright. She practically glows, probably in part because of the strong reflective lighting at this event. She does stand out against the crowd, but she could have accomplished the same goal with a classic red.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Competing elements

Hillary Clinton accepted the George McGovern Leadership Award last week. She wore a print blouse:

Secretary Clinton paired the blouse with a gold necklace that almost perfectly bisects the flower that is meant to be the visual focal point at the collar. It's so distracting! I would have recommended that she forgo a necklace entirely, given how much detail the blouse involves.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not all blue is for boys

Rep. Alan Grayson didn't wear a flag tie for his statement on foreclosure fraud (thankfully) but his choice still wasn't one I would recommend:

The abstract print on this tie with a white and aqua color palette, paired with a matching bright aqua shirt looks almost...feminine. It certainly doesn't position the Congressman in a powerful or authoritative posture.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bachmann buttons up

Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared recently at a Republican press conference in a very buttoned up navy blue suit:

We've seen the Congresswoman before in seersucker, in sweater sets, in shiny yellow jackets, and we know that she has no qualms about making television appearances with bare arms (not just that one time but all summer on Fox and on the House floor).

But we have not often seen her like this, in a style that is so covered up and...conservative. Bachmann's style has typically been overtly feminine, in the same mode as many Republican women this season, who allude to their values by referencing traditional gender roles in their clothing. This outfit reminds us much more of a corporate board room than one of Sarah Palin's "Mama Grizzlies." 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The suspense is over

Speculation began weeks ago about what Justice Elena Kagan would wear with her robes for the Supreme Court "class photo" last week. Specifically, would she opt for a collar or jabot the way Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg have done? Or would she go without, as Justice Sotomayor has done more often than not? On Friday, the day arrived, and there was no jabot in sight for Justice Kagan:

The Washington Post's Robin Givhan has already deconstructed this choice far beyond anything I could do, but I will say this: I wish that she had chosen perhaps a subtle light blue for her blouse instead of white. Justice Kagan's skin is so fair that from a distance (like when the photo is small) her collar blends in to her skin, and she looks a little like she's wearing a neck brace. Maybe something like this:

Monday, October 11, 2010

O'Donnell embraces the joke... sort of

Saturday Night Live included a sketch this weekend that played off Christine O'Donnell's "I'm you" ad, showing her wardrobe choice in another light:

While we drew the comparison between O'Donnell's outfit and the signature look of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, SNL shrewdly pointed out the irony in wearing all black while declaring, "I'm not a witch." She was going for sober and serious, but what she projected, at least for some people, was clearly something different.

O'Donnell herself tried to demonstrate a sense of humor without repeating the word "witch" (again) with this tweet almost the moment after the clip aired: 

Of course, SNL is so meticulous about their characterizations that the hair was almost exactly like hers, definitely not better. But this comment lets her be self-deprecating, and might even fend off either Fiorina-style catty remarks or weather-related mishaps.

I suspect we'll see her add some color to that black suit next time, though.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A bold look for early voting

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently announced early voting in October. She wore very bold jewelry:

Few people could pull off this bold necklace, but the Mayor has the strong features to make it work. But the large hoop earrings send the look over the edge - the necklace needs to be the sole focal point.

What's your favorite piece of statement jewelry? Do you wear it to work?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Suggested Reading: Project Campaign Trail

I hope you're all reading the Project Campaign Trail series over at Capitol Hill Style. Lots of good suggestions about how to solve some campaign fashion dilemmas.

A sample: "Most campaigns maintain a rather lax dress code, so it's amazing how far a jacket will go."

Texture without volume

Senator Maria Cantwell chaired an Energy Subcommittee hearing last week. She wore brown:

There are two features I love about this jacket:
1. It fits perfectly.
2. It has a very subtle texture to it - not flat, but not a big heavy boucle or tweed. It gives her an authoritative look without being severe.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

O'Donnell says "I'm you." Would you steal Gillibrand's outfit?

By now you've probably seen Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's latest television ad, where she tells the viewer, "I'm you." But if you haven't, here it is:

She's wearing a black suit, pearls, and soft pink makeup. Since "you" could be a lot of people, I'm not sure whether I'd recommend this look for "you," but for her, it's not bad.

But it is different. This isn't just a departure from her usual look. This look has all the hallmarks of someone else's usual look: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Not sure? See for yourself:
So the question is, was this deliberate? And if so, why? These two women couldn't be further apart politically. But this isn't the first time we have wondered whether O'Donnell has taken more than just inspiration from the looks of other politicians - people just can't stop talking about her resemblance to Sarah Palin. She seems to be casting about for a style role model among the candidates who have come before her. I'm not sure that it's working for her though. As you know, I recommend that you dress like yourself, not someone else.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When black and white isn't clear

Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced a bill on unemployment insurance last week. She wore black and white:

I can see why she probably chose this outfit. A dark suit and crisp white blouse convey maximum seriousness. But this color palette is much too severe for her. Combined with button earrings and stiffly coiffed hair, she looks impenetrable. Charcoal gray and pale green would have accomplished the professional image she wanted with a more accessible finish.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Seeing Red

Rep. Louise Slaughter spoke on the House floor about trade with China this week. She wore a Red Jacket:

This shade of red is good for the Congresswoman. It's the shape of this jacket that's problematic. The huge lapels and boxy shape make her torso look expansive. Even buttoning the jacket would pull in the silhouette a bit more and improve the look. 

Although we don't see her in profile in this clip, I bet she would benefit from a more supportive bra as well. Wearing a bra that is the wrong size or not supportive enough or stretched out can lead you to buy blouses and jackets in a larger size than would otherwise be necessary, leaving you with lots of extra fabric around the waist and sleeve areas. It looks like that might be what's happening here.