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".

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions