Jeremy Corbyn may have ripped up the political rule book by winning the Labour leadership election on Saturday. Defying the style book, though, might be much harder.
Labour MP Simon Danczuk has declared his new leader “too untidy, too scruffy” for the tastes of many voters. So exactly how does one make a Prime Minister of a vest-wearing bloke once allegedly described by one of his own activists as “the only man who buys his clothes at the Dalston Co-Op”? We asked a leading style consultant, Angela Marshall, for her advice. These were her initial thoughts and suggestions.
Move from Dalston Co-Op to M&S
But slowly. No need to scare the voters with any sudden moves. “If he changed overnight,” said Ms Marshall, who has guided both Tory and Labour Cabinet ministers, “his supporters might wonder ‘Is this the man I voted for’?
“One of his appealing qualities is that people believe he is truthful. He needs to keep that central to his image and dress to suit his personality.”
Which means that whatever Mr Corbyn’s politics, there is no need for extremism in his tailoring.
“I wouldn’t suggest going to Savile Row for a pinstriped suit. That wouldn’t be him.”
All that’s required is a little “sharpening up” – from geography teacher to headteacher.
Lose the beige
“Not a good business colour,” says Ms Marshall. “Yes I know he likes it, and it might be OK in a casual setting. But when you are trying to be head of the country, it’s not necessarily coming across as the most powerful, assertive person in the world.”
Press your shorts
What to do about those shorts, in which Corbyn strode forth to meet the world on Friday? Ms Marshall wouldn’t advise wearing them to the Commons chamber, but says he could keep them – “provided they are well-pressed”.
Wear a tie
“When you are a leader, you have to be appropriate. You have to show respect to where you are,” says Ms Marshall. “Mr Corbyn also has to show he knows how to conduct himself in business meetings or dealing with foreign leaders.”
It was as if Mr Corbyn had been listening. He appeared in the Commons yesterday suited, booted and with tie. Yes, that top button was undone, but we wouldn’t want to be frightening the voters with sudden changes, would we?
Perhaps all that Blairite gloom is misplaced.
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