As a federal election draws closer so too does the inevitable comparison between the frontrunners’ sartorial style.
From the colour of Tony Abbott’s ties to the cut of Julia Gillard’s jacket, the fashion choices of the elected, and their spouses, are picked over and criticised widely.
Here’s why we shouldn’t care – or at least cut them a break.
1. Menswear is hard to get wrong
Bill Shorten vs Malcolm Turnball. Not much divide there. Their suits fit quite nicely. I would suggest Malcolm’s have a higher percentage of cashmere. He may have his shirts made for him, just throwing that concept out there, some barristers do.
Both Bill and Malcolm lean towards a low-key check shirt when they’re out and about being friendly and casual, but Malcolm’s do seem a little crisper. There are no weird comb-overs or fake tan. Essentially we run zero risk of being embarrassed by either of them.
2. You can’t really take on Barack Obama
He’s handsome. He can dance. He can actually hold a tune and drop the mic. No one is going anywhere near his cool factor for a long time. Favourite looks of all time are the black three-quarter coat on the steps of Air Force One, his shirt sleeves rolled up with a tie when he was campaigning (sigh) and the brown leather jacket and t-shirt when he dropped into a book store that time.
As long as Malcolm and Bill stay away from flak jackets, pleather bombers (Tony Abbott) and stick to the suit script, they’ll be fine. A zipped waterproof jacket when touring the troops is all you need (again, reference Obama). Or look to Canada’s Justin Trudeau for a contemporary update.
3. Lucy and Chloe look great
Let me stress here that I don’t agree with the unwanted attention and criticism the first ladies receive about their fashion choices. It’s largely irrelevant and diminishes the duties they are undertaking as a political spouse. I recall listening to a heated debate about Thérèse Rein’s blouse once, with an irate Liberal voter exclaiming, “She’s a disgrace”. A disgrace because she likes a big romantic sleeve?
Please. These women are bright, accomplished and strategic. Lucy dresses well, has a great haircut, beautiful pearls, fab glasses. Most of all she’s hugely intelligent and bursting with energy, so if she wants to turn up to lunch in trackies, fine by me. Chloe Shorten also looks modern, contemporary and relaxed. She’s a fan of pink (influenced no doubt by her chic and fashionable mother, former Governor General Quentin Bryce, who was never shy of show-stopping colour) and recently won the black tie style stakes in a one shouldered black satin number, so either way we are covered.
4. There are more pressing issues
Female politicians, especially those with a high profile such as Gillard, Julie Bishop, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton were and are constantly critiqued about their pantsuits, their shoes and their hair. When are we going to get over this? They are presumably making these conservative choices to stay under the radar, to simplify their life and save the few decision making minutes they manage to get in a day.
They are not thinking, “What shirt will I put with this pant? Clutch or tote? A patterned coat or plain?”. That’s for bloggers who are getting paid per Instagram post. Here’s what I’d be wearing if I had to face an 11-hour Benghazi hearing: Birkenstocks, trackpants and a comfy sweater.