Any woman who appears before an audience whom she wishes to influence, as women in politics inevitably must, faces the Image Issue.
The New York Times (paywalled article here) ran a piece recently on Nicola Sturgeon, the newly-elected first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party. She is now subjected the style scrutiny faced by not only well-known women like Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Dilma Rousseff and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but also by every female currently serving in electoral politics.
The Times article says, "...Ms. Sturgeon... has been upfront about the
role that fashion plays in politics. In April, for example, she gave an
interview to ITV’s “Tonight” show, in which she said, 'You have to be
thinking about what you’re wearing, but you don’t want to be thinking
about it at the expense of what you really need to be thinking about.' ".
Exactly. Women politicians tend to find their look and stick to it; once a few fashion-police tomatoes are tossed, how many outfit jibes are left to make?
The articulate Ms. Sturgeon also speaks though her wardrobe. Look at her last year, before the campaign began:
and after her victory:
Red is operatically emphatic, beige murmurs. (She has also lost weight and brightened her hair colour.)
I'm not suggesting a woman who wishes to be memorable, whether personally or professionally, has only red for her flash card—however, vitality is communicated through colour, and anyone on view for long days can benefit from the boost, which she will not get from beige.
If the solid version seems too intense, think about bouclés and similar fabrics that introduce colour without overpowering. (Because the bright-jacket-black-bottom formula cuts most women at the beam, I rarely admire that "split the difference" outfit.)
The NYT article says her transformation was not the work of image consultants and that she favours dresses from the Edinburgh boutique Totty Rocks. If you've ever wanted adopt the retro charm of Nurse Jenny Lee in "Call the Midwife" or yearn for an Edwardian tweed jacket, Totty Rocks will make your day.
Doesn't she wear red beautifully? Another dress, with an insouciant shoulder detail and tailored sleeve (and believe me, a sleeve like this is hard to find):
In a coral suit with fitted jacket, also from Totty Rocks:
The First Minister of course wears other hues, but she's a leading example of the power of a perfectly-fitted burst of colour, when you want to stand up and be counted.