When it comes to professional clothes for women why should we care on how the wives of political leaders dress? According to an article published in Forbes recently, Jennifer Baumgartner, author of the soon to be released book You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You, states that “You become a billboard for the country.” She also goes on to say that:
“The First Lady is a representative of her country, and a representative of the women in her country. We may not know her, but we can immediately see what she looks like.”
But choosing professional clothes for women in politics is not just a simple trip to the wardrobe and saying, “What shall I wear today?” All outfits worn are strategically chosen to “communicate targeted messages.”
When it comes to professional clothes for women, in politics let’s take a look at Michelle Obama as a perfect example:
Michelle Obama is known for the accessibility of her style choices, often choosing pieces from J.Crew or Talbots, which most citizens would be able to afford and emulate. She also uses her platform to showcase and support home-grown talent, creativity and innovation. Wearing the work of American designers like Isaac Mizrahi and Narciso Rodriguez reflects her sense of patriotic pride.
First lady style also represents the “spirit of the country,” says Baumgartner, noting that multiple studies show that we wear has the ability to change how we feel and how others feel about us. Obama may use tailored cuts and bold colors and patterns to portray American characteristics like friendliness, freedom, independence and professionalism. Her wardrobe also shows her multi-faceted personality—sometimes active and athletic, other times classic and formal.
What about Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister, David Cameron? What message do you think she is trying to convey to men and women with her professional clothes?
When Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron, arrived in the U.S. yesterday in dark slacks and a black Burberry coat, fashionistas on Twitter immediately compared her to the often brightly dressed Michelle Obama. “Samantha Cameron is NO Michelle Obama,” tweeted one, while others likened the look to Chairman Mao or a ninja, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
First ladies and women in politics do NOT need to be seen as fashion icons but rather they have a reputation to keep up to so dressing appropriately does matter. As Baumgartner puts it:
And because women generally are judged by their appearance, style will always be a favorite topic of media members and citizens alike. Whether this interest in women’s fashion has been imposed on us or we’ve fed into it, is a chicken-and-egg question that no one has the answer to, she says. It is clear that the public enjoys consuming it. A 2010 report by the Harvard Business Review, estimated that Obama’s style choices contributed $2.7 billion to the retail sector.
It goes without saying that whether you’re a first lady or a career woman, professional clothes for women matter and make a HUGE difference as to how you are perceived. Learn more about how an image consultant can help you pick the right wardrobe and look your best!