Sunday 25 February 2018

Sharp suits: Why Claire takes fashion tips from 'House of Cards'

Elegant and powerful: Claire Byrne at the Election Debate 2016
Elegant and powerful: Claire Byrne at the Election Debate 2016
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Claire Byrne's tuxedo jacket and tapered trousers for the leader's debate had the combined firepower of Claire, the experienced RTE and TV3 telly veteran, and Claire Underwood - the fictional First Lady from House of Cards upon whom broadcaster Byrne readily admits she styles her professional 'look.'

"I use Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright) from House of Cards as my inspiration. You know that elegant sort of look, it's powerful yet it's stylish, but it's not overtly sexy and that's the line I have to tread," Claire told me when we discussed fashion for her weekly Monday night live show on RTE.

"I don't want too much flesh on show. I love fashion, I love style, I want to be on trend but not be a slave to it," said the mother of two, who received widespread praise for her handling of the debate watched by over one million viewers on Monday night.

Claire is not the only woman in the world of Irish politics, I suspect, who looks to the House of Cards costume expert, Johanna Argan, for ideas. According to Argan, the secret to Claire Underwood's style is "all about tailoring and clean lines, and looks to body-skimming in a sophisticated, age-appropriate way."

Opening her closet door on Monday morning, Claire Byrne knew instinctively that she had to achieve a professional look and hold onto viewers. I salute her choice of androgynous chic worn with a twist. She didn't venture away from her favourite jacket style - the streamlined, long black tuxedo - and on the night teamed it with a red top with a subtle snakeprint and sharply tailored pants that revealed a glimpse of her feet, so the trousers didn't swallow her up and look boxy.

Claire introduced colourful touches to the mix - the red print top, the flash of red nails, the cool make up with non-threatening pale lipstick. No red-lipped telly dictator here. Her blonde bob hair style with caramel highlights was sleek and worn to the side so there were no coquettish moments of flicked fringe or distracting mermaid hair.

Ultimately Claire brought her own charm to what is essentially the man's uniform, but she did it with personality and femininity.

Bairbre Power, Fashion Editor

Irish Independent

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