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Who Helps Politicians Pick Their Clothes?

For some reason, the reality that politicians (and their partners) often have help selecting their public-facing wardrobes has always been treated like a dirty little secret. No one directly involved ever wants to talk about it.


The fact that Meredith Koop, one of Michelle Obama’s aides, served in part as a fashion adviser/assistant was an open secret during the administration, although one that was rarely acknowledged outright. Currently it is widely accepted within the fashion world that Vice President Kamala Harris has someone who helps her, but officially that person has not been acknowledged. Ask the East Wing about Jill Biden’s image-making, and you get shooed away as if you were an annoying Chihuahua.

米歇尔·奥巴马(Michelle Obama)的助手之一梅雷迪思·库普(Meredith Koop)在一定程度上也是她的时尚顾问/助理,这在奥巴马政府期间是一个公开的秘密,尽管很少有人直接承认。目前,时尚界普遍认为副总统卡玛拉·哈里斯(Kamala Harris)有人帮助她,但这个人还没有正式得到承认。如果向白宫东翼询问吉尔·拜登的形象塑造,你会被赶走,就好像你是一只让人讨厌的吉娃娃狗。


And yet, as you point out, if any rational person took the time to consider the situation, it would be clear that:


1. In politics, a dress or a tie is never just a dress or a tie; it is a communications tool.

1. 在政治领域,一件连衣裙或一条领带绝不仅仅是一件连衣裙或一条领带;它是一种沟通工具。

2. Given their schedule, it’s not like our political leaders have the luxury of scratching their heads and gazing into their wardrobes every morning to figure out how they want to use those tools each day.

2. 考虑到他们的日程安排,我们的政治领导人不可能有这样的闲情逸致——每天早上盯着衣柜冥思苦想,弄清每天应该如何使用这些工具。

3. Window shopping or otherwise perusing what is in store or on the runway is not possible given their profile and security concerns. (And they might not like the optics of lots of Amazon trucks pulling up outside the house.)

3. 考虑到身份和安全问题,他们不可能去逛街,也不可能去细看商店里或者秀台上的东西。(而且他们可能不喜欢看到很多亚马逊送货车停在房子外面的景象。)

4. Political events, be they campaign speeches, international summits or televised committee hearings, require real research on the subtleties of cultural difference and tradition, as well as analysis of potential visual takeaways from every angle (literal and metaphorical).

4. 政治活动,无论是竞选演讲、国际峰会还是电视转播的委员会听证会,都需要对文化差异和传统的微妙之处进行真正的研究,并从各个(字面上的和隐喻上的)角度分析潜在的视觉影响。

And the protagonists themselves, as you point out, simply don’t have the time, at least if they are effectively doing their day jobs. Especially because, as communication has become more and more visual thanks to social media, where pictures go viral faster than any text, clothing itself, which does not require translation (or should not), has become an important form of communication.


Barack Obama acknowledged the issue during an interview with Michael Lewis for Vanity Fair in which he explained why as president he wore only gray or blue suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions,” he said. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing.” (Besides, when he veered away from that policy and wore a tan suit, we know what happened.)

贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)在接受《名利场》(Vanity Fair)杂志迈克尔·刘易斯(Michael Lewis)采访时承认了这一问题,并解释他就任总统后为什么只穿灰色或蓝色西装。“我正在努力减少决策,”他说。“我不想自己做主吃什么、穿什么。”(此外,当他改变这一策略,穿了一套棕色西装时,我们知道发生了什么。)

That’s one answer to the problem. Another is to get some help. Sometimes that role has been played by a professional stylist, sometimes a designer (Nancy Reagan worked closely with James Galanos) and sometimes a retailer.

这是问题的一个答案。另一个是他们可以得到一些帮助。这种角色有时由专业造型师扮演,有时由设计师扮演(南希·里根[Nancy Reagan]曾与詹姆斯·加拉诺斯[James Galanos]密切合作),有时由销售商扮演。

It’s not that those people dictate every look — they’re not in their boss’s drawers, going through the T-shirts — but when it comes to major public occasions, they are helping get our political leaders the information and analysis they need to make an informed decision. Which is really what we all want, isn’t it?

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