It was the shiny yellow-gold tunic top that shoved me over the edge. It said all the wrong things about her—brash, brazen. The thesaurus went downhill from there into words like gaudy, pretentious…
Don’t get me wrong. I plan to vote for Hillary and have been in her corner since her days as despised wife of Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas. I’m from Arkansas. I didn’t like her. She wasn’t one of us. But even more as the years passed, I didn’t like how people talked her down, assumed the worst, and disrespected her accomplishments.
I respected what she did for children, for the underclass, for women. I cheered for her as First Lady trying to move universal health care through a barricade of male refuseniks. I especially admired her quiet, steady patience in the blood lust that erupted with the Bill & Monica absurdity. I respect what she could do as POTUS not only on social issues, but also in foreign policy, in steering the ship of state with a steady hand. She’s shrewd, intelligent, and tough as nails.
So why does she wear such awful clothes? Soon after the yellow top, she came out wearing something even worse, a one piece A-line with black leather top and white bottom that looked like a failed costume for a B-grade BDSM flick. I haven’t recovered.
Men solved this problem a long time ago. They all wear the same thing: a dark suit. Aside from the occasional shirt deviation (almost-white versus white, the occasional radical pin stripe), the only variable is the tie.
You’ll never see a man wearing a yellow-gold tunic top. Or a black and white leatherette outfit. Or a bunchy knit conglomeration in muted gold and black tones. There’s a reason men have settled into this monotony of dark suits. No one talks about their clothes. No one comes into an important meeting distracting everyone with the color of his jacket.
For men in charge of the world’s governments, armies, and business empires, it’s not about how they look.
Despite her dedication to equality for women, Hillary as much as any woman suffers the demands of appearance that fall so unevenly on the female gender. (A burden we’ve put on ourselves, by the way. For us, unfortunately, it IS about how we look.) The hair, the shoes, but especially the outfit must fill multiple needs. Is it suitable to the weather? Stylish? Flattering? The right color?
We can’t deny that Hillary bears a double burden. She is a woman. She can’t look like a man. Her hairstyle, her clothes, even the tone of her voice are viewed differently simply because of her gender. Within that reality, however, there are major mistakes to be made.
How is that such a smart woman with access to the best advisers the fashion world has to offer can end up with enough wrong choices to fill an entire season of What Not To Wear?
Is it that she can’t accept the reality of her sixty-plus year old body? Like so many of the rest of us, she’s added pounds as the years have passed. Tunic tops cover up those horrible bulges that we’d rather not see in the mirror. But in stiff fabrics, tunic tops also result in a SpongeBob SquarePants profile. When you already look like a Teletubby, why double-down on the damage?
Whoever advises Hillary on wardrobe (Is there someone?) needs to spend some time with Stacy London or Clinton Kelly to re-learn the lesson about the raised waist. For women with extra pounds, a fitted suit jacket should come to its narrowest point just below the bust line and flare from there. Then at least there is the illusion of a waist. The jacket should stop just at the widest point with a darker, slimmer-fit skirt or pants extending the flattering illusion. What’s so hard about that?
An opposing point of view is that her unisex tunic tops are meant to uncouple her from the female aspects of her body—no delineation of breasts, waist, or hips. I could almost buy that argument except for the opposing elements like scarves, oversized jewelry, and flashy colors that accompany the unisex styling. I’m left to conclude that the unisex isn’t about disguising female attributes but rather an attempt to hide uncomfortable truth about her weight.
Forget about it. You don’t see Donald Trump hiding his girth under a purple tunic. How is that a man so far from being qualified to serve as POTUS can appear more presidential than a woman with Hillary’s resume?
What’s wrong with taking a lesson from the men in their usefully mundane wardrobe choices? Why not wear nicely tailored fitted suits in gray, navy, or brown smooth fabrics? Any dark color in muted tones comes out fifty points ahead of any bright red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, blue, or green and a hundred points ahead of prints or thick knits.
Why not evoke the executive look with shirts/blouses that fit sleekly inside the suit jacket without ruffles, scarves, and other frou-frou that add bulk? A nice strand of pearls would be fine, but why the big shiny necklaces that look like a cast off from last year’s Vogue modeling session?
I get that Hillary may be trying to make a statement. Maybe she purposefully chooses not to dress like a man. She may want to emphasize her femaleness, announce to the world that she’s a woman all the way and better for it. She may want to avoid the stereotype of the female executive in the gray suit, mimicking the man’s wardrobe in order to fit into a man’s world. A woman trying to be a man.
Hillary may believe that by refusing to adopt the more traditional male look in her quest to become the first female president, she is avoiding the inevitable criticism that would come her way if she started showing up in dark suits. Yes, of course there would be criticism. But there’s always criticism.
She’s received so much criticism so strongly for so many years that it’s easy to understand a decision to say to hell with it, I’ll wear what I like. That might explain the horrific choices in her wardrobe. She likes bright yellow, so she wears it. Often. She likes bunchy knits and shiny leatherette. (I won’t go there…) She likes big fat jewelry and gobs of scarf.
Sorry, Hillary, but you miss the point. Clothing is one of the first things of our appearance that tells the rest of the world who we are. A shiny bright yellow-gold tunic top isn’t presidential. We need to see you in clothes that don’t distract us from your credentials, your discipline, your ability to lead the nation in a world full of high-stakes drama. The wardrobe cannot be the drama.
Somewhere deep down inside, she must understand this. On occasion, she does appear in dark suits. These are the moments when we can see past the stick-in-your-eye defenses that have grown quietly inside her in response to her long experience of attack politics, defenses like garbing herself in outrageous clothes that scream I-don’t-care-what-you-think!
Wardrobe choices speak volumes about judgement, respectability, and taste. How can a dubious voter feel confident in Hillary as potential commander in chief when she shows up in a god-awful hot pink outfit? We need to see that the flamboyant feminist can be trusted as a somber executive with a much broader agenda than women’s rights, can be believed in as a leader dedicated to helping guide the free world.
So Hillary, please stop with the fashionista bit. If you can’t live without bright gaudy colors, invest in some house slippers and pajamas in bright yellow or fluorescent purple. Show the world you are focused on the responsibilities of a president, not whether your necklace is big enough. Walk away from anyone who tells you to wear a tunic top that comes to your knees. Get over the idea that fashion matters.
You want to be president of the United States of America. Look like it.