Does delectable equal electable?

With the election resulting in no majority government, plans of a coalition still undecided, and turned away voters demanding a re-run, the UK is currently in political upheaval. However, amongst national debt and pressure for electoral reform, there is one unaddressed issue that may have made a small difference.

Image accounts for a large part of how we interpret people. As the three main party leaders are plastered across television, newspapers and the internet – one must question to what extent the way they have dressed and carried themselves, has made a difference to public opinion.


Samantha steals her husband's thunder in the style stakes. Photo: Conservativeparty

This election’s live television debates made history in the UK as the first ever. This idea came from the U.S. However, the impact politics has had on fashion over there has been to a much larger degree since Michelle Obama.

The three UK party leaders have had little window for creativity in their outfits. In the second debate, Conservative leader David Cameron daringly swapped his original blue tie for a purple one. However, Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, took this one step further by opting for a bright orange tie in the third debate.

Fashion icons the three of them may not exactly be, but the main focus has been on the leaders’ wives. Cameron’s wife, Samantha, arguably has had a head start n the style stakes, as the creative director of Smythson, a fashionable Bond Street stationer. Then there is lawyer, Miriam González Durántez, Nick Clegg’s other half, and ex-PR, charity campaigner, and Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah Brown.

One event that had outfit choices heavily scrutinised, was the accompaniment of the leaders by their wives last Thursday as they went to the polls. The wives had their last opportunity to become as stylish and influential as First Lady, Michelle Obama.

David Hellqvist, author of the Fashion in Politics blog, said: “Politics in general has, for good and bad, become involved with celebrity. I think it seems very important for the public, but how important it really is, is a different matter. Whether Sam Cam wears Marks and Spencers isn’t really going to affect the politics.

“But the defence is, if in some way this increases the general interest in politics, then that is no bad thing.”

Mrs Brown has been continuously criticised recently for her choice of clothing, including her decision to team red wedge shoes with dark tights. On accompanying her husband to the polls, she wore a pale blue top and navy blue skirt, which certainly didn’t make an impression on the media. And Samantha Cameron had another factor to consider whilst getting dressed that morning, her baby bump.

It isn’t just the TV debates that we have taken from the US. It seems that since the US have become fascinated by style icon, Michelle Obama, the UK fashion stakes have also risen, and there is a lot more focus on fashion in politics.

Fashion and politics are definitely forming an increasingly close relationship. With Boris Johnson on the cover of Elle magazine late last year, the election was also covered in women’s magazines, such as Glamour. And the recent London fashion week saw heavy involvement from politics.

So, whilst the UK has no definitive leader, it also has no clear winner in the style polls either. However, it is safe to say that fashion is reaching out and getting more people interested in politics, which can only be a good thing.

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