Friday, 9 January 2009

Worst-dressed politicians

Life as a politician is tough — you have to understand subtle nuances, contend with pushy advisors and win over disgruntled voters. Yip, a fashion faux pas could seriously dent your chances of world domination.

Admittedly, deciding what constitutes a 'bad outfit' in the corridors of power requires a little more than a copy of Vogue. Do you follow the sartorial Sarkozy, don Prada suits and project the image of a well-groomed-but-ultimately-superficial man or do you put together a strategically mismatched and dowdy ensemble in the hopes of conveying your gravitas?

While we would like to credit those who cracked our 'worst-dressed' list with the latter, we fear that this would be altogether far too generous. The fashion failings of these individuals are simply beyond reason and redemption. Luckily, they won't escape ridicule…

Black suit, white shirt, purple tie — you can't go wrong, right? Unless, of course, you are Gordon Brown. Note: by comparison the standard issue army uniform looks like a well-tailored piece of couture.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is clearly not familiar with the principle of dressing to suit the occasion. A nicely buttoned-up suit has its place; the tennis court just isn't one of them. But with hair like that, who noticed the suit?

Hillary Clinton (who so often gets it right) needs to look to her male counterparts when it comes to diversifying the pantsuit. Tailored? Check. Feminine? Check. Completely, unabatedly, iridescently orange? Check. Check. Check...

With this patchwork evening jacket, New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark has taken dowdy to a new level. Yes, this is something your granny would like. Come to think of it, she probably has couches in the same material.

But at least Helen Clark looks sane and sober. The same cannot be said for fashion maverick Muammar Gaddafi. No one can doubt Gaddafi's commitment to Africa, although those trendy shades do pose some uncomfortable questions.

Dictators are clearly comfortable enough in their political invincibility to throw caution to the wind when it comes to fashion choices. North Korea's Kim Il Jong obviously went for comfort with this one — the elasticised waist, platform shoes and military green are nice touches.

While he is most comfortable in a dapper colonial suit, Robert Mugabe goes all out when it comes to the elections. Everyone likes bright colours and the countless images of himself help his supporters identify their man when they are faced with a choice of one on their ballot papers. Like a nice tie, crazy eyes give the outfit something extra.

A touch of personality or cultural heritage can give an outfit that something extra, but Mangosuthu Buthelezi's outfit seems to be suffering from a serious identity crisis.

No, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang did not leave her neck at home; it is simply hidden beneath the rows of pearls. It goes without saying that vertical stripes and bad weaves simply do not suit everybody.

There is very little that can be said about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's outfit, which it doesn't already say for itself…

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