Power dressing: the election-race wardrobes

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With polling in the US about to get under way, Harriet Walker casts her vote on who has won in the fashion stakes

Hurricanes and healthcare aside, it wouldn't be a proper race to the polls without a little wardrobe coverage, would it?

Ever since Obama's election in 2008, American politics has been a much razzier place – upon his inauguration, designers queued up to sketch their dream outfit for the new Head of State to wear, and offered everything from white tuxedos to top hats and tails.

Not since the likes of Jackie and JFK have we seen so starry a first couple: they kiss, they dance and, boy, do they look good on camera. And while POTUS was a force for change, FLOTUS has been a market force in her own right, boosting brands by more than £1.7bn, according to one economist's estimate, after being spotted in their wares.

In the pink

At the second Presidential debate, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney surprised spectators by arriving in matching shades of Schiaparelli pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While the First Lady opted for a minimal Michael Kors shift dress and cropped jacket, her would-be successor was in silk Oscar de la Renta – upstanding and uptown American designers both, and part of the nation's fashionable fabric, but with very different outlooks: the former, all sporty grace and ease, the latter more traditionally elegant and formal. Reviews the following day suggested Mrs Romney wear sturdier underwear next time.

The grey lady

Michelle Obama confirmed her fashion credentials with this lilac-grey micro-gingham and lace dress by avant-garde New York designer Thom Browne. Browne, who began his career in menswear, is known for his more conceptual pieces, but this tailored A-line shift was just right for the occasion. Tastefully understated as ever, Obama has a knack for combining chic with cool, garnering votes from both sides of the fashion arena – full marks for both being in the know, as well as for simply looking great. She knows the importance of accessorising too, and blinged things up with a glittering bow-shaped brooch.

Shirt sleeves and sun-tans

Note the difference between Mitt and Barack's dressed down looks: the Republican candidate goes all-out yokel in checked shirt and open collar, while the President himself merely rolls up his sleeves and loosens his tie a little – you get the impression that this is how he looks in the Oval Office too, exuding a natural sort of can-do authority. Romney's top half is all summer barbecue, while beneath the podium lurked a pair of grey (potentially crimplene) slacks. You can take the Mormon out of Utah, but you can't take him out of his trousers. Who can blame Mitt for trying to update his look a little from Fifties to Seventies with a hint of spray tan?

A floridian faux pas

When Ann Romney wore a Diane von Furstenberg geometric print wrap dress to a rally in Florida, the designer's "people" were surprised. A spokesperson for DVF, who is an outspoken Obama supporter and suggested Republicans might want to leave her Manhattan store at an event last month, claimed the brand was "not quite sure how Ann obtained the dress". Presumably, she just bought it. Anyway, it was a bold move either way, seeing as a) it looks a bit like a tablecloth, and b) there's nothing worse than wearing clothes made by someone who doesn't like you or what you stand for.

Accessorise this

While many may think Obama has this election in the bag, Sharon Stone has been toting his face around on a bag. Other celeb endorsements include a latex ballot paper dress worn by Katy Perry, and Beyoncé's earrings, spelling out "Barack".

Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture