For some, this phrase conjures images of big hair and shoulder pads as seen on Dynasty characters and 1980s air hostesses. Yet for many women in the public eye – be it business, politics or international affairs – power dressing is a part of their job. Thankfully, many of them have adopted a much more sophisticated approach to dressing for success. With election campaigns heating up on both sides of the Atlantic this year, one can safely predict that not only the candidates’ promises, but also their wardrobes, will be scrutinized – as will be those of other modern-day power dressers. And it seems that politics and fashion remain, as ever, an alluring mix. Meet the women who have mastered the art of fashion diplomacy.
Earlier this month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) presented a luxury faux-wool green coat by Vaute to the Duchess of Cambridge for her birthday. The animal rights group hoped that by embracing vegan fashion the Duchess would send a powerful message to millions of other women worldwide. When it comes to ethical fashion, although the Duchess does not mind wearing fur and leather, she has been known for ‘recycling’ her outfits and giving a boost to artisanal skills such as lace making through her wardrobe choices. It would be certainly a boon to the UK’s ethical fashion scene if the Duchess were to add British designers like Katherine Hooker or Nicola Woods (Beautiful Soul) to her royal closet.
In the Land Down Under, the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop holds the unofficial portfolio as the nation’s Fashion Minister. Known for her penchant for killer heels and statement accessories, Ms Bishop is arguably Australia’s most stylish politician ever. While green does not have an obvious presence neither in her wardrobe nor in her political vocabulary, she is sharp, sophisticated and chic. She often turns to Australian designers like Carla Zampatti and Isabel Aujoulet for perfectly cut daytime suits and stunning evening gowns. Whatever Ms Bishop’s political agenda, her fashion diplomacy is certain to help advance it.
Amal Clooney, née Alamuddin, had made her mark as an accomplished human rights lawyer before getting hitched with the world’s once most eligible bachelor last September. As an activist, Amal favours sustainable fashion and had been seen wearing accessories produced by artisans in Tanzania and the Philippines. Recently named the most powerful woman in London, Ms Clooney’s style is exquisite and elegant both in the courtroom and outside. And forget the ugly court shoes!
Last but certainly not least, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, who celebrated her birthday (undoubtedly in great style!) this weekend. Her flawless fashion sense has earned her the title of the most fashionable woman in the White House since Jackie Kennedy, and for good reason. But Mrs. Obama is also a dedicated environmentalist, who has embraced causes ranging from promoting national parks to organic food. When it comes to fashion, the First Lady likes vintage couture as well as traditional African prints by Ghanaian and Nigerian designers, and she famously wore an Oscar De la Renta gown last year after the American designer had criticised her ‘unpatriotic’ fashion choices in the past. Whether her clothes are ‘Made in the USA’ or not, Mrs. Obama stands out as the ultimate glam-and-green power dresser.