Women of Substance

Employment Minister Esther McVey (Photo Andrew Parsons) Nick Clegg Queen Elizabeth 1

I was delighted to read about David Cameron’s recent Cabinet reshuffle in which more women were promoted and that is always a good thing in my opinion! (A double celebration in fact because in the same month The Church of England finally agreed to the inauguration of women bishops!)

But alas, I have since discovered that certain tabloid coverage has been accused of undermining these women with their fashion critique of the new ‘girls’ on the Downing Street ‘catwalk!’ Mention of Employment Minister Esther McVey’s ‘don’t mess with me lipstick’ and ‘thigh high slit skirt’ are just a few of the comments that have inflamed some readers.

Wearing my image consultant hat, this got me thinking! Applauding style and fashion sense cannot be a bad thing but is the underlying theme one of belief in women’s ‘inability’ to succeed on talent alone? Rightly or wrongly, we are living in an image conscious world in which impressions are formed within the first few seconds of meeting.

I agree that probably male coverage would, no doubt, have differed but what is so wrong with a touch of glamour in politics? I am sure that had the women been described as drab or boring that would have been wrong too – wouldn’t it? Perhaps we women just need to chill and be less sensitive and adopt a sense of humour?

I actually think that male politicians take their image seriously too. Wearing navy suits can appear more approachable but still maintains the same authority as grey or black. A burgundy tie is popular because the colour reflects on to the lips and helps to gain attention when making an important speech. It was interesting that Nick Clegg replied to the article by tweeting, “What I wore to the office today – I hope I don’t look too 80’s cabinet attendant.”

It’s not as if our fascination with those in high office is a new phenomenon. Dating back as far as Queen Elizabeth 1 the public took an interest in what she was wearing and as a woman sovereign, Elizabeth was more than aware of the impact she had to make to be taken seriously. Perhaps this was why she had over a thousand dresses AND she still managed to retain her femininity!

So come on, ladies and gentlemen, let’s just rejoice in the fact that women have gained promotion in a male dominated world and applaud their femininity with the recognition they deserve!