Fashion is an art. It’s a way for men and women to represent their personalities and make a statement. Fashion is more than just fabric, it also embodies an individual’s character and it can make or break how other people view you. Fashion becomes especially important when someone is in the spotlight and vulnerable to the public eye, and this is why people have to overcome their fears in order to follow their dreams. Being in the spotlight isn’t easy, as it requires a lot of self-discipline. Unfortunately, fame becomes even more difficult when you’re involved in politics. Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Sonia Gandhi are three examples of women who have faced this challenge, while many more have also had to overcome to complexities of fame. These women use their style positively to help spread their ideas, to inspire young women around the world, and to move forward with their political agendas.
Michelle Obama is the most recognizable woman in the world. She has blown away voters with her effortless grace and elegance. She is poised, natural, open, and motherly. She is the perfect example of what a first lady should aspire to be. This powerful first lady, one of the most influential in American history, is a fashion icon as well as an activist for a healthier America. The first lady constantly promotes American designers, which encourages other women to support American designers as well. Her sense of fashion is affordable, which allows her to relate to women who make a variety of incomes. Michelle Obama has not only been influential through her style, but she is also known for her fight against obesity. She advocates for staying active though her trendy work out clothes that are comfortable, affordable, and stylish. She holds contests and partners up with companies that attract children in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. However, her style isn’t the most important thing to remember about her, but instead it’s how she uses her style to advertise her ideas. Michelle Obama is not flashy about her stylish lifestyle, but she is rather chic and classy, which draws positive attention to her efforts.
Before she entered the spotlight under President’s Obamas election, she wore t-shirts, sundresses, jeans, and cardigans, which we can call the “approachable mom look.” This look is relatable, comfortable, and allows her to look like an everyday citizen. On President’s Obama’s election night in 2008, Michelle Obama wore a red and black fade dress with a black cardigan. This wasn’t just a regular dress to her, it made a powerful statement; red is powerful, intense, and it’s a color perfect for the newest first lady! On her husband’s inauguration, she wore a pair of pale olive gloves and a dark olive coat, signifying peace. It was the start of a new era and like mentioned before; Mrs. Obama used her style to make a statement, not just to wear something. For White House dinners and events she usually wears elegant, chic floor length gowns or short dresses, which are all very approachable, especially when her outfits consists of floral, colorful, and chic patterns. Michelle Obama’s fashion is high class but low budget (at least for a powerful woman), and it makes her relatable to other mothers and young women everywhere. When women go shopping, they are able to see a shirt she wore in any of their favorite stores, which makes Mrs. Obama seem both reachable and like an everyday citizen.
The second woman whose fashion seems to have helped her political agenda is Hilary Clinton. Normally, she isn’t the first woman that pops up into your head when you think fashion, but her style does in fact reflect her character as the first lady. Mrs. Clinton image is of effortless power, and her style definitely reflects just that! Her signature style is a pantsuit, which is powerful, assertive, classy, and timeless. She carries a sense of power when she walks down a hall, and she uses her style to highlight this powerful presence. She is a “non-style icon,” as she wears designer clothes but doesn’t advertise it, and for Mrs. Clinton it’s all about substance over style. The pantsuit is comfortable, and to wear one you do not have to waste time picking out matching items of clothing. This goes to show that her focus isn’t on how she dresses, but how her style will be able to fit into her busy agenda each day. However, when Bill Clinton was running for president, Hilary Clinton wore casual clothes similar to those of Michelle Obama in order to look more approachable and relatable to voters. Her hair, never longer than her shoulders, was soft and curly, and she wore headbands during that time which shows simplicity. Hilary Clinton’s purpose was to be transparent and to show voters that she was simple with her style, but also elegant.
Finally, Sonia Gandhi, similar to Hilary Clinton, has more of a comfortable and functional style that embodies her political beliefs. During her college years, before she met her husband, she wore many Italian designers and was very Western due to her upbringing. However, once her husband became the Prime Minister of India, she wore handspun saris. She never wore flashy, “in-fashion” clothes or designer names. She thrives on remaining humble and simplistic, and is therefore more easily able to communicate to the many different types of people in India. Keeping this in mind, her saris are made according to the culture of the state she is in or is going to. Her saris, just like Hilary’s pantsuits and Michelle’s cardigans, is her signature style, which is respectable, humble, and has years of traditions and culture behind it; that screams louder than any protest or war. The blouses she wears with her saris are extremely modest. The back of it is as high as a collared shirt; the sleeves are elbow length, and her waist is always hidden. Sonia Gandhi used fashion to inspire peace and humbleness among the people of India.
These women, made famous by their husbands, still stand just as strong and powerful. They used their sense of fashion, a form of art, to inspire millions of people, especially women, around the world.
Author: Brenn Dowdy
Brenn Dowdy is a student at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. She studies journalism and women studies and finds interest in queer literature, poetry, sexuality and gender, and feminist theory. Brenn has done community service work with Planned Parenthood, The Feminist Majority Foundation, Montana Indian Ministries, The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee and has written for Your Tango, The News Hub, Latina Lista, El Nuevo Tennessean as well as her campus newspaper as an opinion columnist.