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Thursday 14 December 2017

The Hillary effect: powerful pantsuits

She has overhauled her look and her attitude. Meet Hillary Clinton 2.0: Democratic US presidential nominee and style influencer

Fashion influencer: Hillary Clinton
Fashion influencer: Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton opted for sharp tailoring from Ralph Lauren for the first two live TV debates
Hillary Clinton also wore Ralph Lauren for the first presidential tv debate
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton goes to the polls on November 8 with an unusual moniker - that of fashion influencer.

From former FLOTUS to wannabe POTUS, Hillary has fought a spirited battle against The Donald, dodged the brick bats about her emails, and held off ridiculing his ridiculous perma tan.

I've no doubt that the 69-year-old grandmother is totally bemused by her elevation to style influencer, because fashion was never really her 'thing'. In sharp contrast to Michelle Obama's eight years of presidential wardrobe wows, Hillary's only style legacy from her White House days were the early day velvet Alice hairbands, big earrings and statement eyebrows.

In recent months, Hillary has played her style card with aplomb, stepping out in an impressive wardrobe of 'everywoman' pantsuits in block colours, strategically chosen in stars and stripes shades of red, white and cobalt blue. Indeed, one of her early Instagram offerings was a photo of a rail of blue, white and red suits with the caption "hard choices".

Hillary's pantsuits have bewitched election watchers and triggered renewed attention across the style world on the power of the trouser suit which, in recent years, lost ground to the dress and jacket combination. However, I forecast a major return of the trouser suit in our affections, especially this Christmas, when sleekly tailored co-ords in luxurious, tactile fabrics like velvet and shimmering metallic brocades will vie for our love. Just think tuxedo suit, but with a twist.

Hillary has injected glamour into her style armour with the help of designers like Ralph Lauren, now her 'dresser-in-chief' who dressed her for the three presidential live TV debates earlier this month. But poor Hillary, even when she gets it right, she gets it wrong. She has been roundly criticised for the designer suits with the €3,000 price tags that the average woman cannot afford.

American-style pantsuits tend to be more blocky in shape and there are lots of shirt jackets and Nehru collars rather than the conventional tailored jackets with lapels we like this side of the Atlantic. Hillary ticks 'pear' when it comes to body shape, but I would like to see her look to more judicious tailoring, and a few extra darts.

I brought my grievances to the experts, and picked the brains of leading Irish designer Deborah Veale, who has dressed presidents as well as thousands of corporates in power suits. Deborah describes Hillary as "handsome in the true sense of the word".

"I know the camera is cruel but I think she is looking chunkier than she is. I think she is wearing clothes too big for her and that are ageing her unecessarily," says Deborah.

"It's not the fabric or the colour, it's more the shape. I would like to see more lean tailoring and a slim line, longer trouser. I would like her jacket to be shorter, more shaped, and watch the sleeve length too. It is all about fit and proportion to make the best of your natural attributes."

Designer Louise Kennedy says: "When it comes to the trouser suit, tailoring is paramount. The modern suit is all about soft layering of separates, and the combination of different fabrics such as crepe, velvet and cashmere. A cigarette leg trouser paired with an oversized boyfriend blazer and either a silk blouse or a crisp white shirt is both eclectic and chic.

"And the mixture of dark hues such as navy and black are always a firm favourite."

Shelly Corkery, fashion director of Brown Thomas, says: "Trouser suit tailoring is back and having a moment, but in a very modern and fashionable way. The big shoulder has returned; and oversized jackets at Balenciaga and Vetements are very powerful.

"Trousers have a high-waist with a wide leg, which is very modern and retro."

Finally, designer Helen McAlinden loved the fact that Hillary teamed her narrow pant with kitten heels for a feminine touch. "I advise that women wear the pantsuit with an ankle-length, narrow leg pant. Show a little flesh and wear a kitten heel for the office and a killer heel for dinner."

Irish Independent

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