Wednesday 21 February 2018

Power dressing: How do our politicians shape up?

From conservative collars to dressed-down denim, our party leaders' sartorial choices aren't just for show. Kirsty Blake Knox goes behind the seams to find out what the candidates' clothes really say about them

A little bit bland: Micheal Martin
A little bit bland: Micheal Martin
Enda Kenny
Richard Boyd Barrett
Lucinda Creighton
Gerry Adams
Joan Burton
Stephen Donnelly

Analysing what politicians wear is often dismissed as reductive. "Focus on what they're saying - not what they're wearing," we're told.

Oh, get real. Of course it matters how politicians dress. Who wants a man in ill-fitting trousers running the country? Answer - no one.

For thousands of years leaders have used clothes to reflect their ideals, status and wealth. Given this, politicians should have power dressing down to a fine art.

Inevitably though, they slip up. With that in mind, let's take a look at how our leaders fared on Monday's TV debate.


A good suit should act as body armour; projecting a quiet and confident authority even if you're a quaking mess underneath. Micheal's single-breasted suit is well cut, but a little bland. Nice but forgettable.

The colour of tie is an unusual choice - Fine Gael blue? Apart from the colour, it's just too understated.

Wouldn't a striking Kelly green, or a pale orange have been more on point?


Enda's suit speaks volumes. Granted, the fit is atrocious, but pinstripe is a statement. Pinstripe means business and the promise of money.

But pinstripe is also out of touch, and out of date. Unless you have serious swagger - like Leo in Wolf of Wall Street - it's a hard look to pull off. And, let's face it, Enda is no Leo.

Topped off with a two-tone salmon pink tie? I don't think so.


Lucinda's ensemble is marmite; for some she looked the picture of class.

For others, she looked like a cross between a 1950s schoolmarm, and Wednesday Addams.

The swallow-tail collar wasn't the most becoming. And the colour did her no favours. Verdict: her dated style choices reveal inherent conservatism.


We have a winner. Best outfit by a country mile. Great jacket, crisp white shirt, and no tie. Modern, fresh and effortless.

Not attention seeking - but smart in both senses.


Red is always a great colour on TV sets. It's strong and striking. Joan knows what suits her; pencil skirts and colourful jackets.

Her white fitted shift dress, and robin red box jacket was predictable, but effective. Unfortunately, she teamed her outfit with those awful shiny nude tights and horribly sensible low T-bar heels. Pity, because she has great legs. Verdict: Lacking confidence or imagination - so falling back on old favourites.


I find it hard to look past Gerry's gleaming gnashers - I think he and Keith Duffy must have the same dentist.

This suit is not a good fit, it's loose on the shoulders, boxy and baggy. The tie adds a pop of colour, and is a small saving grace.


Richard Boyd Barrett's suit and jeans combo cries out, "Hey, guys - I'm different to those suits. Well - ain't I?"

Sadly, his resolve to appear smart casual falls flat on its face. Let's call a spade a spade - that is the most remarkably rubbish shirt.

The colour, the material, the cut. Yuck. And the boot-cut jeans? Totally uninspiring. Maybe, it's supposed to signal that he's beyond fashion. Or maybe it just means fashion's beyond him.

Irish Independent

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