Monday, October 4, 2010

Photo of the Day: Meg Whitman's Suit of Armor

Whitman the Warrior Goddess by Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Earlier in this election year, the Republican candidate for senate, Carly Fiorina, was caught on tape ridiculing the hairstyle of her Democratic opponent, Barbara Boxer. So we know that looks matter in that state's politics. And of course candidates who are women have a lot more choices to make in this regard than men, who by convention still wear suits and ties. For her debate over the weekend with California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, Republican Meg Whitman chose an orange top and black pants.
    Her choices walk the fine sartorial line that women running for office must navigate. During the Republican primary, Whitman projected her feminine side, but general elections apparently call for sterner stuff. Her clothes were neither frilly nor masculine, and while informal and assertive they stayed within boundaries of taste that only a few powerful women can cross.

Ruining the leather biker's jacket for all time
 What's more, by skipping orange pants she avoided any unfortunate comparison to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign look.
    When Whitman stepped from behind her podium, as in the picture above by Rich Pedroncelli for Associated Press, her commanding height (she's 6-feet tall) was obvious, even tree-like, which isn't bad politically if the tree is an oak rather than a willow.
     If the picture tells us anything about Whitman's wardrobe choice, it is that she she wore them like a suit of armor. She certainly needed it during the debate on Saturday, in which she fended off flak about her hiring of an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.
     Men have an advantage here, since their suits and ties are essentially protective. (The tie is a modern adaptation of the cravat, which had its origins in 16th-century military attire.) If Brown was a bit colorless, he could afford to be.


  1. wouldn't it be so wonderfully simple if women were allowed to "suit up" like men (at least in the always-sartorially-challenged political arena)? i personally love wearing ties...can't we informally mandate a socially acceptable get-up of: white shirt, tie or scarf, jacket or blazer, and dark skirt or trousers? i really won't mourn the pants suits of yesteryear...