Opinions: How important is personal grooming?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
PETER YORK, media consultant: Kenneth Clarke knows that suede shoes are not a conventional item. He's making them into a projection of Kenneth Clarke-ness - he's made a decision to be blokey and tough. This is probably good for his image in Britain, but not so good when he meets the head of the Bundesbank - he will just be thought of as not very hygienic.

BARBARA FOLLETT, political image consultant: Kenneth Clarke can't have got so far in politics without knowing that he has to show an image that is consonant with what he says. Wearing a suit says, 'Trust me with the economy, I'm sharp and clear-thinking' - but the shoes say, 'I'm more interested in looking after my garden than looking after the Government'.

MATTHEW PARRIS, political commentator: A certain carelessness in dress appeals to the British, although they do like people to be clean. I like Kenneth Clarke's Hush Puppies because they show that he doesn't care. If Michael Howard wore mauve socks and a baseball hat he might be in with a chance]

MICHAEL, broker: As long as you don't smell and you look reasonably presentable, I don't think image is something that's too important. I prefer to put my trust in someone who seems genuine and can actually do the job than someone with the right designer labels.

RICHARD HEATON, manager, printing company: What you wear on your feet doesn't affect your ability to read a balance sheet. I took on my receptionist to look smart and my accountant to do the books - and I couldn't care less if he does them in his pyjamas.

JAMES GATES, shoe salesman: Fashions in gentlemen's shoes have changed a lot. Once no one who was anyone would have been seen in a shoe that wasn't polished leather, and always lace-up, never slip-on. I do think that's more appropriate for a minister, particularly when teamed with a suit. I would be most disappointed to see a minister in trainers.

NEIL HOLLIDAY, dry cleaner: People in the public eye should set a good example. You don't see Princess Diana dressing up in grunge clothes. They should make an effort to always be immaculate. I think it does affect your work. If you're smartly turned out you feel more efficient.

CLARE KELLY, kennelmaid: Let Mr Clarke wear whatever he likes. He's old enough to make up his own mind.

(Photograph omitted)

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