I spend far more time looking at photos of women in public life than I do those of celebrities. Women politicians must look professional and polished during 12-hour or longer days, from informal breakfast meetings to state functions, and often while traveling—what a brief!
We have recently welcomed a record number of Canadian women federal government ministers, and a number rely on pearls to polish their hardworking wardrobes—with mixed results. I don't think pearls correlate to performance, but because these women are photographed while they work, it's a good way to see how to wear such a popular piece of jewellery.
The Hon. Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, wears an average-sized classic single strand often.
At left, the pearls look unprepossessing on the substantial turtleneck; a better choice would be a brooch at the shoulder, or earrings with presence. If you want to wear pearls (or any beads) with a high collared knit, go big. And what are those earrings? Probably not the brown rabbit droppings they look like.
Christine Lagarde shows the scale for pearls worn with a high, substantial neckline:
OK, Mme. Lagarde's are ginormous South Seas, but even good costume would be acceptable.
Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, travels to the most remote areas of this vast country, most recently to meet with parents of murdered and missing indigenous women. She wears pearls well, and when she ups the size at neckline of her white blouse, as in the right photo, they're far more striking.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Philpott, is, like Bennett, a physician turned politician. Her pearls are the smallest, and the ones I would most like to replace. They are not up to the demands of life on the podium, a mismatch to her significant role.
At left, a necklace that I suspect was a sentimental gift some time ago, but now too small for a grown woman. The
middle one looks sloppy. To replace those, I'd suggest this pretty pearl torsade from Ross Simons, for a most reasonable $125, just what the doctor ordered.
An upgrade to "fully-feathered professional" doesn't imply a Lagarde-sized investment; I prescribe generously-sized (11-13mm) freshwater metallics like these from Kojima Company:
I'd also like to see women in the spotlight choose more striking designs than the round whites. Margaret Trudeau, mother of our current Prime Minister, wife of a past one, wears pearls marvelously. She chooses modern pieces, mixing sizes or adding a pendant.
Below, the shot at left shows how smaller pearls can be worn with larger. The pearls on the right are of medium size, but the grey colour, decorative clasp and second delicate piece add visual impact.
If they are well-chosen, pearls add elegance and polish without demanding much attention or thought. Our Canadian ministers are on the right track, but a few could use a pearl makeover.
Do they need a role model?
One of the most recognized political figures of our time wears pearls frequently, and ventures beyond round whites: grey coins, a fab mother-of-pearl bib, and large whites accented with decorative spacers.
But for the world-stage moments, she chooses important pearls. She wears at least two South Sea strands that she may mix with multicolour Tahitians or a delicate pendant. Their effect is undebatable—so Hillary Clinton wore them to hers.
Who rule the world?
Girls. In pearls.