Hillary's Pantsuit Paradox: Is This the United States of Fug?
Hillary Clinton is taking hits again for her penchant for monotonously dressing in an unending parade of pantsuits. Is Hillary representing the United States of Fug, or is she just doing her job in a perfectly fine, functional uniform of the proletariat? Does it matter?
If I were Hillary, I'd be tempted to show up to the next Summit of Great Importance in a paisley minidress, thigh-high boots and an ermine shawl. Talking Point: How ya like me now?
Because, seriously, can't we leave the woman's closet alone?
Critiques and comedy routines about her beloved wardrobe staple were standard during Clinton's presidential election bid. Now, even in her role as Secretary of State, she's still under fire from the fashion cops. It's apparently not enough to try to salvage our relationship with Afghanistan, manage the impact of China's shifting fiscal policy and hold the line for peace with Israel, because we need her to also prioritize being a bit more of a fashionista and a little less fugly with the jackets. In her spare time.
They serve a practical purpose, not a fashionable one. She wears them to fit in, not to stand out, and that's what bugs me. Why can't she stand out? Why do women, when they're sitting at the same table or in the same corner office as the big boys, always have to blend in? Perhaps a hot pink jacket would be a liability on the runway of foreign relations, but I think the secretary of state has something to learn from the savvy first lady, who played to the visual nature of our culture right away and grabbed the public's attention with her brightly colored cardigans and floral print dresses. If Nancy Pelosi can pull off a more feminine look on Capitol Hill with colorful suits and pretty pearl necklaces, why can't the secretary of state?
It's the Pantsuit Paradox: Why are women criticized for "dressing like men" in business, when in truth, "dressing like men" would mean never being scrutinized?
I'm not buying into the critique at all, for lots of reasons. Function and ease of having a uniform aside, why are Betts and similar critics so hung up on a gender binary? Style can be simple, conservative, and thankfully devoid of florals for many, many women. Style can mean wearing lot of the same thing -- in fact, repetition can help define a style. Yes, Condoleezza Rice took more risks and spent more dough, but she also got nailed with sexualized descriptions of her fierce "dominatrix" boots. Regardless, her choices worked for her. Why compare her to Hillary, just because they both are women? It doesn't make a professional woman a fashion failure to want to communicate a different style.
I'm thinking we should leave Hillary's pantsuits alone. Look elsewhere for your femme fashion icons. The best style is what works for you, and I think we can say that the woman has found a groove that lets her get some serious work done, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits and all.
Perhaps the solution all the way around would be to position Secretary Clinton on the Supreme Court, though that's unlikely to happen, according to the most recent reports from the Huffington Post ... You could wear yoga pants and a tank top under judicial robes, and you'd still be large and in charge. Nothing like a robe and a gavel to keep folks from catting about your clothes.