Book Review – Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion

“Most of us realize that politicians have a unique talent,” British fashion editor Annalisa Barbieri claimed. “Give them an outfit or a sentence, and they put it together in the most convoluted, illogical and unattractive way possible.” The matronly frumpiness of female political figures, with their dreary clothing choices (power suits with shoulder pads, the ubiquitous string of pearls) has rarely made first ladies and female politicians trendsetters.

Robb Young argues in Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion that this perception is rapidly changing. A fashion journalist for the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times, and British Vogue online, Young says that now, feeling less pressure to blend in with dark-suited males (those shoulder pads did serve a purpose), political women are expressing themselves through clothing like never before.

Today the media report on political women’s style in the breathless manner used for supermodels and actresses. But where the clothing choices of male politicians are rarely more complicated than the colour of their ties, women “take a gamble” no matter what outfit they choose.

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