Style Diary: Men In Politics

Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images.

Men are not immune to fashion faux pas, nor are they immune to wearing designer labels and spending an extra bit of cash on those “cute” trainers. They are also not immune to being judged on their aesthetics; on how they look. Males have become involved within fashion, with the development of metrosexuality. The opposite sex do care about how they look. We have joined forces and there is indefinitely a race for the mirror in the morning.

Makeup, styling products and fashion branding have moved into the male culture too, with competition even more rife now than it has ever been and it seems that the media is highlighting this within the political arena, whether politicians like it or not. Over the leadership election and throughout the political calendar this year, we have seen the emergence of male style on a new level. Politician’s are being submerged into the consumer culture, perhaps in order to fit in with us. Fashion, it seems, is no longer just something for females, indeed it is something for both sexes.

Can you remember Ed Miliband and the bacon sandwich?

Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images.

Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images.

The pictures taken after this moment were of him looking rather “odd” eating the sandwich. The image was banded about social media and many politicians and certainly the media became pre-occupied with it. Ed Miliband has had to bear the brunt ever since. Because of his status as a politician, he was looked upon differently, which says something about aesthetics. It was become heightened in the political world. Looking good in the real world is difficult enough! He brushed off the joke being critical of himself, like we all do. Surely that’s normal?

We get a kick out of saying how good or bad someone looks. Think about the ‘hot or not’ pages in magazines; ‘does this politician look pleasing to you?’ is the unconscious question being asked. But, ‘are we sexualising males in politics?’ is the question I’m asking.

Think of David Cameron in his rolled up shirts. He changes his fashion depending on where he is and who he’s with. Can we imagine him in jeans and a t-shirt sitting at home in 10 Downing Street? Or is it easier to imagine Jeremy Corbyn like that? David Cameron is perhaps like all of us. At home we sit in our pyjamas (we all do it!) and when we are out, we like to look our best. He changes into a suit to show his status and power. He rarely wears a suit when he visits a school.

Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour party leader has been chastised too for how he dresses. He dresses down, perhaps the reason why he is more relatable. Perhaps his “common” dress is more powerful that we think. We think that he has power because we feel we can identify with him.

It shows that fashion has become a sign of status and a sign of power. Maybe his rolled up sleeves show that he is relaxed and come down a few rungs from the political ladder to become more relatable. It’s not everyday that we get to wear a smart suit is it? Maybe he wants a day off.

For example, during the leadership election contest, he sauntered about in a shirt with a few buttons undone and smart trousers. He still had to look ‘a cut above the rest’, just like Cameron above but he had fashion on his side. We saw him dressed like this for much of the Labour Leadership process. It’s only now that he has been elected that we have seen his fashion change.

On his first Prime Ministers Questions, he was donned in a shirt, smart trousers, a tie and a suit jacket, a demure look, in relation to his ‘rough and tough’ look, which seemingly matches his beliefs and his personality. His personality definitely added to his aesthetics and like-ability.

Photo: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

Photo: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

We see men wearing suits and looking smart as a sign of power. Politicians are known for their power, therefore are they just matching how they dress to what is expected of them?Are we saying that these images are in fact what we want. We want how a person dresses to show us that they have power and status.

How Jeremy Corbyn dressed during the leadership was commented on immensely, in conversation. He was described as “common”, something the general public are normally associated with. Perhaps the media was working in the favour of us, satirically.

These politicians can’t get rid of being judged because of how they look. What they wear or what they look like determines their status; how powerful they are within the political arena. If all of the politicians wear the same thing, it gives them equal power, does it not? Or if they dress differently from how they usually do, then this is noticed, as we have seen with senior politicians.

The media is focusing on how these men dress, rather than what they are actually saying. Questions are asked about what they are wearing and by whom, just like the women at any red carpet event. Aesthetics has taken over politics and has become an ever more powerful phenomenon. Are we saying that we care more about what someone dresses like, rather than the words that come out of their mouth? Fashion has engulfed traditional politics in flames and now politics is also being dominated by aesthetics.

We saw from “Milifandom” and the “Cameronette’s” Twitter storm that aesthetics has become somewhat of a popular culture in today’s politics. Many pictures flooded social media of Miliband and Cameron’s head’s superimposed onto different things…from David Beckham to David Bowie. Miliband even addressed the success of Milifandom in his resignation speech! Teenagers were engaging with politics, even if it was because of how Ed or Cameron looked on a picture! Today’s generation is obsessed with how they look and politics is reinforcing this and making it ‘normal’.

We now have a branch of political fashion. Will we eventually get to the stage where we see a “political hot or not” in a magazine? Who knows?

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