When discussing the fashion surrounding the presidential elections, one could analyze the choice and size of the American flag pins each candidate is wearing. We could remark on the choice of suits and ties. Does that cut make Mitt Romney look too “1%” for the nation to find him relatable? Does that tie make President Obama look like he is trying too hard? However, at the end of the day, even if they have a whole team of stylists behind them, both men are just wearing suits with red or blue ties, respectively. There’s nothing really to it. Therefore, to add an element of aesthetic and style diversity, we look to their wives.
Now, Michelle Obama already made a splash in the fashion world during the last presi-dential election in 2008. When Obama was elected president, Mrs. Obama was anointed the next Jackie O. Back in 2009, many magazines actually made this comparison between the two first ladies’ styles and their outfit choices. Just like Jackie O., Mrs. Obama has con-sistently donned tasteful and elegant ensembles that remain aesthetically classic and First Lady-appropriate.
It is important to note that Michelle Obama has been more than a supportive and behind-the-scenes wife. Instead, Michelle has been a vital element in President Obama’s public image throughout his past four years in office. Accordingly, Mrs. Obama’s style, although always First Lady-appropriate, has also been daring and innovative. In fact, she has been so strong style-wise that she was able to stand her ground when meeting with the former First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, a former model and actress.
Considering Michelle Obama’s strong, cohesive and fashion-forward style, one would assume that Ann Romney would be left in the dust. And, although she started off with the traditional and comfortable soccer-mom look in the Republican primaries, she has stepped up her game when going up against the First Lady. In fact, after the Presidential debates, many newspapers and blogs came out with articles comparing the two wives’ outfit choices.
The most obvious day of comparison was the second debate, when both Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Romney donned the same hue of bubblegum pink. Rumors after the debate spread that this was a planned act of support for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it really just became the perfect opportunity for a “who wore it best” competition. These types of competitions might seem quite trivial compared to the crippling debt, foreign policy and healthcare that should have been the real focus of the American public in these debates. Why should anyone care about clothing and fashion? This is about politics.
But in many ways, American politics are about image. Therefore, the style decisions of each candidate’s wives are an important element in creating an image for the American public. It is not surprising that Michelle Obama has been donning classic A-line dresses with pearls that evoke images of the prosperous Golden Age of America. Similarly, Ann Romney’s original soccer mom look was vital to show a more relatable side to businessman Mitt Romney.
So, although fashion is admittedly trivial in an election that will unquestionably affect the entire world, it still remains significant and requires entire teams of specialists to perfect. And the reason for this is something that Nixon learned the hard way back in the 1960 presidential debates: in American politics, image is everything.
Contact Rachel Eisen at [email protected]