Nancy Reagan was criticized for her splashy, expensive designer clothing, Jackie Kennedy was revered for her style—seemingly ahead of her other accomplishments—and Hillary Clinton was endlessly mocked for her rainbow array of pantsuits, never mind the fact she’d been a senator and secretary of state.
It’s always been society’s job to obsess over the way women look—that much we know—but while it’s one thing to comment on what entertainers wear on the red carpet, fixating on the physical appearance of females in politics is a trickier issue, even if the explanation is as simple as women’s clothes matter more.
Which is why there’s one thing women can take solace in as far as Donald Trump is concerned: how often the President, in just a few short weeks, has been aggressively derided for his clothes, his skin, his hair, and his body.
To say critiques of the 70-year-old POTUS’ style have been brutal isn’t overstating the case, potentially indicating that we’re close to reaching a specific gender-equality tipping point: No president in history has gotten as much flak for his top-to-bottom appearance as President Trump, and that’s not a bad thing. If women of power are to be judged on their looks, why do men get a free pass? According to fashion experts, they shouldn’t.
“Men have escaped the criticism, and it’s high time they came under the microscope as well,” said style guru and longtime Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn. “Elected officials need to get with the semiotics of fashion, because the clothes we wear send a message about how we’re perceived, and they have constituents they’re serving.”
That the fashion-based negativity is happening to Mr. Trump is particularly telling: First Lady Melania Trump is a former model, and First Daughter Ivanka has her own fashion line. Logic would dictate an intense, laserlike focus around what these two tall, fit, attractive women are wearing, but instead the interest is around the President’s outdated personal style (that hair, those ill-fitting suits, the ties that are too long and held down by actual tape).