Why Julia Gillard can't win when it comes to fashion
Whether she wears glasses or contacts, local designers or international ones, Julia Gillard can't win. Former Vogue editor Kirstie Clements discusses Julia Gillard's election makeover and explains why she owes it to Australia to look elegant and stately at all times.
There has been much press about PM Julia Gillard's style in the past week or so, as the mainstream media put her under more scrutiny than they ever would a man in her position.
Just as Hillary Clinton's spectacles attracted a great deal of attention, so too Julia.
I love the new glasses on both of them. They just happen to be two women who look even better wearing frames it suits their respective gravitas.
Ms Gillard's look has indeed changed over recent weeks; she appears to have lost weight, and her sleekly-groomed hair is slightly longer and a shade darker (thank you Tim) and the combination is flattering.
Ms Gillard, like all female politicians, favours a tailored jacket and the whip smart black and white Michael Kors choice for her National Press Club address was a winner.
But high profile women, especially our politicians are held to constant, and I think unfair, accountability for their fashion choices.
Too designer or too pricey and they could be considered profligate and out of touch with the average woman.
Something too pretty or too feminine, then they are accused of being flighty, or flirty.
If they take the safe route and opt for boxy and masculine (to blend in with the men) they are then criticised as style-challenged and frumpy.
Ms Gillard's Kors jacket was neat and slimming and of course she was immediately taken to task for the fact that it was not an Australian designer. She can't win.
She is probably someone who never spent a great deal of money on, or even cared about fashion, but now she is expected to.
For all we know, she bought the Kors jacket on sale during a quick shopping spree whilst she was overseas.
Jackets by Australian designers are not especially cheap, and she is unable to accept a discount or gifts.
Sarah Palin learnt the hard way when the Republican Party image team spent far too much on the charge card for a new campaign wardrobe for her. The media went to town and Sarah went back to shopping at the outlets.
The PM does support Australian designers (I've clocked her wearing both Carla Zampatti and Perri Cutten). And she even shops like we do full price retail.
I once had a conversation with her about the lack of service in one of our top department stores.
She mentioned to me that if the sales assistant had showed some initiative and brought her more options she would have bought a lot more, because she doesn't have a lot of spare time to shop.
I believe that, like all of us, the PM should be able to shop where she likes, and mix it up, both high and low price labels, international and Australian.
As our Prime Minister, Ms Gillard represents Australia on a world stage, and there is a necessary expectation that she look elegant and stately.
I don't want to see her in a cardigan or an Ellery mini skirt. A Michael Kors jacket made her look the part, where a Zara one may not necessarily.
Like Barack Obama coming down the steps from Air Force One in that heavenly navy overcoat, she is holding up her end of the bargain.