The world is filled with fashion icons. We are bombarded with celebrities, models, singers and artists who make the front pages of popular magazines and blogs, often noted for their unique and memorable fashion choices. But there’s also another group that is constantly in the public eye working long hours and jet setting around the world and regularly judged for their style acumen. They are the politicians of the world: heads of states and leaders holding important positions in government. Nowadays, political figures have to be one part celebrity in order to captivate – and maintain – the interest of the people in their countries who they work hard to represent, and one part astute political leader.
Anyone who is constantly under the relentless scrutiny of the media and who regularly receives international attention cannot ignore the way in which they present themselves. Whether campaigning, giving speeches or meeting with other government officials and international leaders, political leaders have to maintain a professional, polished and tidy appearance when they are in the limelight – which is most of the time.
Just like any other famous celebrity, these political figures can find themselves being criticized by the public and media by stepping out in less-than-tasteful outfits, shoes or hairstyle. Indeed, political figures have been castigated in the past just for making one fashion misstep. No matter what a leader might accomplish, first impressions matter in the world of fast-paced media coverage: a fashion faux pas could outshine theiractual political achievements.
However, some politicians manage to consistently look pulled together, polished, and surprisingly creative with their fashion choices. It does not do these fashion savvy politicians a disservice or diminish their actual political accomplishments or actions to point out that they are well dressed: on the contrary, they should be commended for their ability to pull together a great appearance all while dealing with some of the world’s toughest problems. Let’s take a look at the world’s most fashion-savvy political leaders.
8 Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (President of Argentina)
The First Lady-turned- Argentinian President has not been afraid to flaunt a feminine style – complete with super-high heels – while holding the highest political office in Argentina since she was elected in 2007. Trained as a lawyer and known for her support of progressive changes including the legalization of gay marriage, Kirchner always seems at ease in her official duties while wearing softly colored suits, tasteful jewelry and carrying chic bags. For official events, she often wears evening looks that are quite daring for a president, such as patterned dresses and lace gowns. She often wears her hair down, softening her face and adding to her particularly feminine presence. Kirchner also rocks eye makeup: she favors heavy, dark eyes, a choice that has become somewhat of her trademark.
7 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of Liberia)
Although Nobel Peace Prize winner Johnson-Sirleaf often wore Western attire during her campaign, as soon as she was elected president of Liberia – which made her the first elected woman head of state in Africa - she donned traditional African garments. This choice of clothing perhaps helps her foster a nationalist pride amongst those in her country and region. These four piece outfits include a long, narrow skirt, a headscarf and shawl made from colorful, bright fabrics and intricate patterns.
6 Laura Chinchilla (President of Costa Rica)
President Chinchilla, the first female President of Costa Rica, tends to dress conservatively (seemingly echoing her socially conservative policies) in tailored skirts and jackets. However, Chinchilla still manages to embrace bright colors, seemingly letting her personality shine through with bright jewel tones. She also keeps her hair long and often wears it down, which lends a softer and more personal feel to her sophisticated outfits.
5 Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago)
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, the first female Prime Minister of her nation and a proponent of women’s political participation, frequently makes appearances in very bright and colorful outfits. She has the tendency to wear stimulating accessories such as stacks of colorful bracelets, rings, earrings and headpieces. She also tastefully sports colorful makeup to complement her feminine spin on formal attire.
4 Rania (Queen of Jordan)
Rania, Queen of Jordan, has been acknowledged for her impeccable fashion sense for years. Aside from inspiring the fashion world, as a part of her work, Rania supports many charities that inspire girls and women around the world. Seemingly comfortable in both Western attire as well as some pieces that echo more regional influences, Rania can wear an elaborate bright sapphire-blue gown or bold red dress as effortlessly as a simple and conservative black dress.
3 Enrique Peña Nieto (President of Mexico)
Although this list mainly highlights well-dressed female leaders, likely because the type of attire women are expected to wear is slightly less straightforward and ingrained in tradition (and thus more interesting) than formal menswear, Mexican president Nieto deserves applause for his particularly polished suit-and-tie look. Nieto wears well-tailored suits and colorful ties. Although his suits reflect the need to maintain the relatively conservative look his job requires, he embraces small yet chic details such as pinstripes and tidily styles his hair. Style apparently runs in his family: his wife, actress Angélica Rivera, often lands on best-dressed lists.
2 Sonia Gandhi (President of the Indian National Congress)
Gandhi, the wife of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (who was assassinated in 1991), has been the President of the Indian National Congress party since 1998 and has often been ranked as one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes. Gandhi wears elaborate saris in bright colours, favoring rich reds and deep purples. She keeps her hair in tasteful styles, usually tied back, and reportedly adheres to the fashion philosophy that “simple is stylish.”
1 Hillary Clinton (Former Secretary of State of the U.S., possible U.S. presidential contender)
Perhaps a controversial choice for this list, former New York Senator and Secretary of State (not to mention First Lady) Clinton has had a touch and go relationship with fashion throughout her long and busy career. Frequently mocked for her poor taste early in her tenure as First Lady, that all turned around when she made the cover of Vogue in 1998. She has been a darling at more recent fashion events hosted by the likes of Michael Kors, and has attended the CFDAs where she presented Oscar de la Renta with his Lifetime Achievement award. During her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton wore tasteful suits in pleasant colors, embraced classic details such as pearl necklaces, and favored sophisticated tailoring.