We, unfortunately, live in a world where looks and appearance are everything.
Even if you have an ironclad platform that can truly help everyone if elected to office, it will fall to deaf ears if your clothing choices are not up to par.
As human beings, we are visual species. If we do not like what we see – we won’t bother listening.
No one truly likes to have to wear a suit or dress all of the time and luckily there are now two common types of political attire to be worn at different times in public depending on the event.
There are thesocial events such as a community gathering that preach togetherness amongst its residents. Then there are the no-nonsense press conferences and formal public gatherings that require you to appear as the best possible representation of yourself.
In both cases,including the casual settings, you must remain in professional form. T-shirts and jeans are an absolute no-go in any of the more relaxed settings, but it can be clearly distinct from your more public appearances.
The following is what not to wear as a politician and what should be worn instead.
What Not to Wear as a Politician in Casual Settings
What Not to Wear for Men
Whether you are appearing for the grand opening of a new city establishment or business or taking time to check in on the efforts of your people on a personalized visit – you can be casual, but not too casual.
These appearances are meant to allow your personality and relatability to shine through so that you can be seen as a member of the people.
No matter how casual the setting may be, however, this does not mean that you can wear what you would wear when in the comfort of your own home.
Every time you make a public appearance, you are not only representing yourself, but everything that you stand for in terms of helping to change your community for the better.
Shorts, jeans,t-shirts, and stand-alone loose-fitting polos must be kept at home here.Whenever you appear in public dressed in fully casual attire, it creates a sense of relaxation that can be seen as a contentment with the way things are.
As a politician at any level, you must appear well put together and fully ordered to project a business-first sense that shows that you are always working towards the betterment of the people you represent or are looking to represent
The clothing that we wear is a direct representation of our personalities. While it should be acceptable to wear whatever you would normally wear outside of the public eye, it’s just not feasible when you make the choice to become a representative of the people.
There’s no need to worry though as there are still components of your casual lifestyle that you can implement in your business casual appearance at the more laid-back public events you will be attending.
What to Wear for Men
When in doubt,always add a blazer to your casual dress wear. It is ok to wear a polo shirt in these casual settings underneath a wrinkle-free blazer.
A polo will show that you are there to have fun with the people that you are enjoying the shared experience with, and the blazer will work to tie in the professional aspect into your attire. The bottom line is that if you want to wear a polo shirt, it must be contained within a blazer or sport coat.
Blazers are not an absolute must, however,as button-down dress shirts can work just as effectively. This dress shirt can be accompanied by a blazer, but it can also work as a stand-alone.
If you are attending a holiday-themed gathering, you could also choose to go with a sweater. A dress shirt underneath the wool article with the color visibility displayed over the neck of the sweater can really set everything off.
Dress pants designated to be part of a suit are always acceptable, but if you are wanting to feel a bit more comfortable, you can choose to go with more casual slacks or khakis that effortlessly accent the shirt and blazer that you choose to go with.
No matter what,under any circumstances – you should never wear jeans. You can save them for when you absolutely are positive that you will not be seen under the scope of the public.
Although annoying that you cannot fully express yourself with your favorite and chosen clothing previous to your campaigning, it is a decision that you have made when you decided to become a representative of the people.
T-shirts and jeans may be extremely comfortable and your go-to choice for walking around your community before you began your career in politics, but just as is the case with men, you are always on the campaign trail when you are outside of your home.
You can consider any public appearance as an extension of your work, so bright and highly pronounced color schemes need to be left for your vacation days. While it is 2018 and we should have now reached a mindset where what you wears houldn’t be an issue, it still clearly is. Maybe one day, you will be able to wear whatever you’d normally wear outside out the public’s vantage point, but for now, you’ll have to leave that amazing crop top at home.
What to Wear for Women
Replace bright and prominent color schemes for more subdued and muffled color palettes that exude order and professionalism. Shorter skirts should be replaced by pencil skirts the fully cover the upper portion on the leg. You can choose to wear a casual blouse with or without a jacket.
If you are not a fan of the blouse and skirt combo, you can choose to go with a conservative dress. It will allow you to express your femininity without being too revealing in the eyes of the public.
Even though there are a decent amount of people that would be ok with whatever your clothing option may be, you will need to appeal to the masses, and that means all business all the time.
No one should have to censor their own take on style, but unless you know for sure that you are in an area where no one will be able to view your clothing options, you should always defer to an orderly style that will exude your confidence as a representative of the people you are looking to lead.
What Not to Wear as a Politician in Formal Settings
What Not to Wear for Men
It goes without saying that casual clothing of any kind is just not acceptable in a formal setting. While at a formal event such as a charity function or public demonstration of your stances on government, you must dress the part. This means full suit and tie. The slacks and sports jacket combo are just not enough in the most formal of settings.
A polo shirt is not acceptable whatsoever in this case, even if you were to wear a blazer over top of it.
The suits that you choose to go with must be subdued and conservative in nature. Bold and bright colored suits may be gaining more traction now than ever, but they must be reserved for instances outside of your work as a politician.
Loud colors not only work to draw attention from your message, but also create a sense of whimsy and fun that create an idea in the minds of those that see you that you are not taking the event seriously.
What to Wear for Men
A well put together full suit and jacket should be worn during your formal events. A tie is an absolute must and should be of the straight tie Windsor variety. There is some increasing wiggle room to wear a bow tie these days, but before doing so –ask yourself if it has the potential to visually take away from your message.
Even if you are dressed to the nines, if your suit contains any wrinkles, it can immediately quell your efforts of putting together your best professional attire. Pants should have a perfect seam that goes down the middle of the front of your pants.
What Not to Wear for Women
Any sense of whimsy or relatability that you intend to portray in your casual attire must be exchanged for elegance. Even if the style of your dress or blouse is acceptable for public display, if the color is too bright, it will work to detract from your message.
Luckily for everyone, pantsuits are finally starting to fall out of fashion. If you do prefer pantsuits,that’s totally ok as well. This increase in acceptability of dresses will allow you to wear a dress that will still allow you to express yourself as a woman. Whether your preference is the pantsuit or dress,the blouse and skirt combo should be replaced by one of these two options.
What to Wear for Women
Neutral and single-color schemes should be utilized in this Formal Setting instead of eye-catching and bright colors. Your choice of clothing can still accentuate yourself as a woman, but it should not be too revealing. Dresses should be form-fitting and sleek.
The reserved and modest style in the formal setting will allow you to exude confidence. It will, more importantly, show to those that you are looking to appeal to that you are more concerned with your message than your appearance.
It is possible to retain your identity in the formal setting. You’ll just have to create a more conservative version of what you like, at least until you can get away from the public eye.
Key Takeaways on What Not to Wear as a Politician
Although your message and political stances should be held above all else, appearance plays a gigantic role in how you will be perceived by those you are looking to receive votes from.
Maybe in the future, you will be able to wear whatever you’d like in any setting, but for now—stick to a more refined and conservative style of clothing that exudes confidence and makes it clear to all that you mean business and are here for the long haul.