Fashion and politics – a collision

Style is an essential aspect of the impression you give off. The way you dress and present yourself can create both negative and positive ideals about who you are. For example, we would probably not typically assume that a badly dressed, dishevelled middle aged man was  a multimillionaire and CEO if we saw them on the street. In fact, we would probably be more inclined to believe them to be homeless than in charge of an economic powerhouse. These same impressions can be applied to any field of employment, with Foot’s scruffy and unkempt appearance reportedly partly to blame for the labour parties historic loss in the 1979 election. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, is a prime example of how fashion can be used to build a positive impression. Aside from taking the American political world by storm and defending women’s rights in the house of representatives, her red lipstick and power suits have become almost iconic. They create an image of ferocity and remind us that, even before she opens her mouth to speak, AOC means business. However, she has often been crucified by the media for seemingly caring too much about fashion and not enough about the citizens she speaks for.

AOC is known for her red suits and lipstick.

It goes without saying that this negativity tends to come from the right wing and republican media in America, but Ocasio-Cortez is not the first woman to dominate politics and fashion simultaneously. 

Thatcher (whether you agree with her policies or not) could be called responsible for the entire trend of padded shoulders and powersuits in the 80’s. Such fashions helped solidify her ‘Iron maiden’ character. And, luckily for us, these same powersuits and striking silhouettes are back in fashion thanks to female powerhouses like Miuccia Prada. 

Margaret Thatcher talking to television interviewers as she arrives at 10 Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister in 1979, having won the General Election, wearing her iconic blue blazer.

In more recent years, our second female prime minister, Theresa May, donned an array of colourful and funky heels. Whilst this choice of footwear didn’t provide her with a steely persona, it did help humanise her in the way we often forget Politicians are. It gave her personality and created a sense of connection between the people and the PM. However, like those before her, she was criticised for her fashionable façade. Headlines appeared in The Sun and other mainstream tabloids, mocking her dominance and choice of footwear. 

A pair of fabulous heels May wore whilst in office

Style is so often dismissed and diminished, seen as folly. But it’s a consequential aspect of your image and could make all the difference in a variety of situations. Maybe if Trump didn’t look like a Wotsit in a poorly fitting suit, we might have taken him a bit more seriously? But only maybe…

Have any of these political figures inspired you to dress a certain way? Let us know on Twitter @Fashion_North!

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