Suit ability: Fiorina’s style more Pelosi than Palin

Carly Fiorina may be one of Sarah Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies” – the “emerging, conservative feminist” Republican women who took this week’s American electoral primaries by storm – but in one respect she seems to be as close to her would-be colleagues on the opposite side of the party politic, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, as she is to Ms Palin herself: her choice of clothing.

Although Ms Fiorina accepted the California Republican party nomination for Senate in a Palin-esque Reagan red satin skirt suit (efficiently referencing two conservative icons in one outfit), she has most often trod the campaign trail in what is shaping up as the Washington woman’s uniform of choice: the old-fashioned trouser suit, as modelled by the two female power brokers of the Democratic party.

See, for example, the pearl suit Ms Fiorina wore on announcing her candidacy, as well as the grey jacket-and-pants number worn as Ms Fiorina went to cast her vote (presumably for herself) - both a clear demonstration of the intention to dress for success.

Of course, reading repudiation of her Republican sponsor into her wardrobe choices would be wrong – she clearly appreciated Ms Palin’s endorsement - but, if Ms Palin’s candidacy was marked at least in part by her willingness to explode sartorial stereotype in boots and relatively fashion-forward Akris Punto suits, Ms Fiorina’s appearance suggests a little more diplomatic sensitivity to the status quo. Plus a rather clever bit of subtext: if elected in November, she’ll not only fit right in with her new colleagues, she might even try to beat them at their own game.


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