Today we have a guest blog in honour of the local elections from our guest blogger @ms_shepherd
In the interests of full disclosure; parliamentary politics are my jam. I spend most days glued to Guido, think BBC Parliament is worthy of my entire license fee and my dissertation was basically about Theresa May’s shoes (something something media something female political discourse something something something). I go to party conferences for fun. My parents dressed me as a ballot box for a fancy dress parade when I was 5. I watch the replays of election days on bank holidays. I am not normal. So this piece comes from a place of, well, let’s say compassion.
Political dressing for male politicians is pretty straightforward. A suit, probably single breasted unless you’re still reminiscing about having a War Office, and a clean, pressed shirt. White or blue, I’ll let you choose, I’m kind like that. You can only really go to town on the tie and remember guys; nobody likes the man in a comedy tie. I am willing to allow the tie colour to match the party colours. It’s cutesy but passable cute.
If you have to unexpectedly give an interview at the weekend then it’s obviously an open necked shirt & jumper, bookcase in the background, family photos in the foreground. I think maybe this is written in the rule book they get when they start. Do not, under any circumstances do this Simon Hughes, in a photo I took from my telly, on the Andrew Marr show, polo shirt done up to the neck, far too smart suit.
This could maybe work with a) an open collar and/or b) chinos and a blazer (and I have never authorized the wearing of chinos so that surely shows the level of desperation I felt when I watched this on Sunday) His colleague Menzies Campbell does the “weekend comment piece” look well, or he did when people used to ask him to comment. Poor Ming.
My current absolute male politico-sartorio favourite is Jacob Rees Mogg, mainly for using his silver watch chain as his conference pass lanyard.
He even makes the double breasted suit work, being as he is, posher than Prince Charles. I’m a big fan of playing to your strengths and, if you’re popular for being incredibly rich and other-worldly, then go with it. I like my posh people to be eating swan & breaking their ankles jumping in the Cam (larks!); it makes them easier to keep an eye on. It’s like, for example, if you were a party leader who most people thought was a bit weird and geeky, because basically, you were a bit weird and geeky, maybe you should embrace it & just bloody wear that Warhammer t-shirt you covet rather than trying to pretend you’re just like the ordinary bloke on the street. ED ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?
Women have it both easier & harder in that they can show more flair, individuality & have far more potential to accessorise but that there is also the chance they will end up in the Daily Mail for showing too much cleavage/looking dumpy/disrespecting the royal family by wearing high heels. My personal favourite is Betty Boothroyd & her GIGANTIC portcullis brooch she seems to sport on everything. (I’ve met her; I swear it’s bigger in real life. Or she has 2)
Signature items are great and in my opinion, in an older woman, immensely classy. Her brooch is the political equivalent of Anna Wintour’s bob (political side note; Anna Wintour’s brother used to be in charge of the council in my home town. Yes, I’m quite useful in a pub quiz)
I may have written thousands of words about the Home Secretary’s shoes but that does not make me a fan. Animal print shoes are gimmicky but generally she does push the boundaries slightly so credit to her for that and she’s been in Vogue for God’s sake. Her pale blue Thunderbirds jacket was A Strong Look, which I admit is usually my way of saying hideous, but I cannot imagine anyone else wearing it and she looks pleased enough with herself so okay. You’ll have to Google it; it gives me a bit of a headache.
A plain dress, skinny fit or wide leg trousers and an aim-for-Chanel-but-settle-for-Zara jacket always looks great. Yvette Cooper gives good jacket. I love this one.
I don’t know who put out a memo and said wrap dresses are an easy look, because, no, they’re not. Far too much opportunity for flapping open and parts of you flying out (I speak from bitter, bitter experience) and a big risk of the belt squashing you in unflattering ways. A shift dress will always work better.
I know none of this is as important as what they say or what they do but politics and style are my specialized subjects. In fact, writing this has given me a light bulb moment. After years of trying and failing to get a job at Westminster, I have realized my true potential would never have been realized as a researcher. I should’ve set myself up as a politician’s stylist. I’m off to polish my CV and take Simon Hughes’ wardrobe to Oxfam. Happy Election Day everyone!