Carola Long: 'Nothing turns one off an outfit faster than you can say ‘hung parliament’ than seeing it on a politician’s wife'
Saturday 01 May 2010
The party leaders and their wives have been going all out to prove that they are just like us. And a key part of getting down with the people has been dressing-down with the people. This election has entailed an unprecedented parade of casual clothes, from SamCam's jeans and Converse to Mr & Mrs Nick Clegg's sensible weekend jumpers. It's not so much the Mumsnet election as the Converse election.
The clear winner style-wise is Samantha Cameron, unsurprisingly really, seeing as she works at Smythson, fashion's favourite stationers. She might not look particularly Dalston-edgy, but by sticking to understated modern pieces that make the most of a willowy figure, she always looks put together. In theory, her dressed-down, accessible credentials are also nicely bolstered by wearing affordable pieces from Zara, Uniqlo, Comptoir des Cotonniers and M&S, but actually therein lies the problem. Just because SamCam shops on the high street, I'm not going to be fooled into voting for her other half, and her everywoman approach is threatening to turn numerous pieces in my wardrobe into "the great ignored". Nothing turns one off an outfit faster than you can say "hung parliament" than seeing it on a politician's wife, even a well-dressed one.
How do the thousands of women who bought that grey spotty M&S dress Cameron wore to the Conservative Party conference feel about it now? And what about this season's utility look: does it seem quite so laid back and cool now SamCam's worn a khaki parka with skinny jeans to do political battle?
But perhaps the fact that numerous ingredients of the thirtysomething everyday uniform (boyfriend blazer, jeans or crop trousers, scarf, pumps or Converse) have been hijacked by the politerati is a good thing. I'm going to interpret the overlaps between my wardrobe and SamCam's (dark Converse, boyfriend blazer) as a sign that what I thought were neutral, weekend basics to which more interesting touches can be added, are actually mainstream clichés that define an overall look. Have the Camerons killed the off-duty uniform? Perhaps that's what the Tories mean by a fresh start.
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