On today's Tell Me More show on NPR, three women discuss the scrutiny of the fashions worn by the wives of the presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain, and by Republic vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Both guests, former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies and Wall Street Journal fashion reporter Teri Agins agree with my view that this isn't anything new--that women always have and always will draw more attention because of their clothes. Agins noted that the political fishbowl is, in a sense, a type of red-carpet experience we're all watching with interest--and that's true for speakers, too. They also noted that, even in the corporate world, women don't need to wear masculinized clothes that mimic men's styles anymore, so there's a certain power in dressing with comfort and femininity.
Margolies also heads Women's Campaign International, which trains women to be advocates and to run for public office, which includes training them to wear appropriate clothes in appropriate settings--for example, many of the women WCI trains wear something different in their home villages than they do in the cities. Margolies stressed the importance of finding appropriate outfits, noting, "most people remember what you wear and your tone over what you say."
Host Michel Martin asked the guests for their fashion advice for women on the campaign trail. Wear color and a good neckline, and look feminine were Agins's tips. Margolies: Dress simply and appropriately, and make yourself look serious and supportive. (Photo courtesy of the Obama campaign photostream on Flickr.com)