Last weekend saw the 2009 EU Economic Summit held in Berlin. Angela Merkel, one of the world’s leading political figures, was host to the conference. What struck me about the imagery in the press was the way she captured the focus with her lavender-pink jacket framed by the line up of identical dark suits.
Women do have the opportunity to make more of a statement in the public arena by the way they dress. Much more so than men. For me, this example also highlights the importance of ensuring all the elements of the ‘statement’ are in balance.
The shade of her jacket was ideal bringing a sense of freshness, femininity, maybe even optimism for a new political landscape in the use of the spring colour palette. It certainly pulled the eye into the centre of the picture. However, it strikes me that a few changes in the style and detailing would make the look more successful.
The high square shoulder line gives the appearance of tension and rigidity in the jacket, and the close fitting armscye could be cut with a bit more freedom. The sleeves should look the same length, and so one could be shortened or the other lengthened. Another change that might help to soften the look would be to put a slight curve on the lower front opening edge at the hemline. This would expose a bit more of the dark trouser, and keeping the eye central would visually slim the hipline.
Her male counterparts can rely on the simplicity and safety of their ‘uniform’, and their problems are consequently far less complex. The darker suit colours mask all manner of strains in the fit, which is designed and built with a different structure in mind – not so closely tailored to reveal the figure underneath. The simple option of choosing the right tie is perhaps the ultimate distraction.
We live in a goldfish bowl for the media where the slightest flaws in posture, health, demeanour or dress are pounced on by the press who sometimes seem to look for any pretext to set a ‘news hare’ running. In fairness they are not the only ones to judge a book by its cover. The psychologists tell us it is an all too human trait.
Image is vital, particularly on the world stage. That is why so much attention was lavished on the candidates and their entourage during the recent US elections. I am sure we all remember the fuss over Sarah Palin’s wardrobe budget. Yet some women seem to manage things without so much razzmatazz.
Here in the UK, the politician Ann Widdecombe carried out a remarkable transformation. A women of robust opinions, her appearance and demeanour a short while ago became very much the butt of rather uncharitable political satire. The makeover she has undergone now presents her as the same serious politician, but one with a softer, feminine and more relaxed and humorous side.
One’s appearance can be more than the sum of its parts, but only if they all work together.
Photo: thanks to Daily Telegraph