Addressing political issues on the catwalk has been especially relevant since last November’s election. However, politicians have also been using fashion to their advantage. The way a politician presents himself or herself sends subliminal messages to the viewer – signifying their power, views, and message, without having to use words. Style tells a person who you are, and politicians play upon this to create a cohesive image of themselves that coincides with their political stance.
The first tell tale sign of subliminal messaging in politics has to do with sleeves. Bernie Sanders, for example, wears a suit and tie when addressing voters as a whole – showing his professionalism in politics and his knowledge of political system. However, when addressing blue – collar workers, he strips away the tie and jacket and rolls up his sleeves. Making him more approachable, showing empathy, and taking away some of that hierarchy. Left wing politician Elizabeth Warren does this as well with her rolled up jackets. You’ll never see Warren with a full-length sleeve, all of her jackets are cuffed above the wrist or three-quarter length. Signifying she is ready to get down to business, and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She has a casual but put together look about her dress, “…she often keeps her collar popped, as if the blazer must do the work of a coat because she simply does not have the time to be bothered with a trench. She must stay loose, limber.” (Givhan) Donald Trump, on the other hand, is always in a suit and tie. Subliminally telling the nation that he is above, he is in charge, and in his mind he is going to ‘Make America Great Again.’
The designer behind the outfits of Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Janet L. Yellen, etc., is a woman named Nina McLemore. McLemore sought to fill a gap in the market for dressing a powerful woman. Typically you would’ve seen a sexualization of powerful dressing with tight skirts, etc., but McLemore knew that real women needed something that signified authority and power while still flattering and feminine. “She offered them comfortable tailoring in TV-friendly colors, fabrics that don’t wrinkle and at a cost – about $800 for a jacket – that’s a good 40 percent less than the usual designer prices.” (Givhan)
The power of clothing on outside perception goes beyond just showcasing personal style. You have the ability to change someone’s opinion, which is exactly what these politician women are able to do with the way they dress themselves.
Givhan, Robin. “Elizabeth Warren Is Sending You a Subliminal Message with Her Sleeves.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 20 May 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/elizabeth-warren-is-sending-you-a-subliminal-message-with-her-sleeves/2016/05/20/ea1ff3e0-1dda-11e6-9c81-4be1c14fb8c8_story.html?utm_term=.d5b2a870300a.