The Politics of Style

Unless you havn’t seen a newspaper, watched TV, been online, listened to the radio, or pretty much done anything else today, you’ll know by now that this is a historic day: Hillary Clinton is the first female US Presidental nominee.

Yes, she’s a divisive candidate. But surely any dislike of her stems from her political policies and/or past career-led activities? Right? Wrong. Former editor of Vanity Fair, Tina Brown, claimed on this morning’s Today Program on BBC Radio 4 that younger female voters can be put off Hillary by her style.

Surely women today aren’t so vacuous and superficial I hear you cry! Or maybe it’s just millennials who are (as someone suggested earlier on social media)?

But the truth is, I think we’re all in denial if we claim style - and image more generally - doesn’t influence our perception of someone. As an article in yesterday’s Stylist Magazine pointed out: whether we like it or not, we all have deep rooted bias. And style plays just as big a role in that as everything else. 

After all, clothes are one of the first things we see when we look at someone. Within seconds we’ve subconsciously formed assumptions, and even judgements, about who they are. Yes some do it more than others. But no matter how hard we try to not ‘judge a book by its cover’, none of us are immune. Because, ultimately, it’s in our nature to treat appearances as ‘blurbs’; a brief summary of someone’s character before you delve in to discover more.

Take Hillary Clinton: according to Tina Brown, when she wears straight forward suits with sunglasses, she’s perceived as being a bad ass. But as soon as she keeps changing her outfits and putting on unattractive, over-the-top looks, she becomes a try hard. And apparently that isn’t cool. 

Another good example is Amal Clooney. Her impressive human rights legal work aside, her outfits are constantly scrutinised in the media and on blogs, often leading to unflattering conclusions about her personality. “She’s too attention seeking”, “She’s arrogant”, “She’s trying to show off with her flashy, expensive style” are common remarks. These beliefs are totally unfounded, and yet they exist, causing her to become an unpopular figure. All because of what she wears (well, that’s if you can forgive her for bagging George Clooney in the first place).

I wouldn’t suggest for a second that image is up there with the most important things in life. But it’s equally naïve to dismiss it as something frivolous. And, even if you really don’t care what other people think (and good on you if you don’t!), how we dress has just a big an impact, if not more, on how we feel about ourselves. We’ve been saying for a long time now: confidence = style. So if you are feeling good about the way you are looking and the clothes you’re wearing, you’re whole persona will reflects that.

Often, a multitude of good things happen when you feel you’re looking good. You feel strong and confident, the consequence being that you’re projecting the best version of yourself. People will gravitate towards that.

So that’s why it’s so important to value your appearance, and put love and care into your style to ensure it’s conveying the message that's right for you. And why we believe at that it’s so vital you’re presented with clothing options that allow you to do so. There’s no shame in admitting image does have an impact; it’s about making sure it’s the true one.


Hillary Clinton Top Image and Thumbnail (edited to size) Credit: "Hillary Clinton In Hampton, NH" Marc Nozell. Some Rights Reserved: Licence

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