Election Style Showdown

Red & Blue from M&S

Judging by recent polls, it seems the public are casting votes not on what they hear but on what they see. With Gordon Brown insisting "the election will be won on substance over style" (thank God, in his case), let's take a look at how the party leaders shake up on the wardrobe front.

Gordon Brown, who has ranked lowest in both the televised debates, was in fact, labelled the worst dressed man in Britain by GQ. His signature look is an embarrassing attempt at formal; crumpled outfits, awful shiny red ties, and outwardly ill-fitting suits - all of which are inexcusable. Even with a pity donation from a famous Savile row tailor, Brown still manages to make their impeccably-cut look bedraggled and clumsy. (Only he could manage to catch his tie in his jacket and not notice for the entire duration of the first TV debate!) Ironically, despite his complete lack of style, Gordon Brown must win on brand. It might be bad styling, but his message is undeviating and oozes his character. He's so consistent in his uniform that he even poses on holiday in bad suits, conveying a reliability that has to instill some confidence!

David Cameron, on the other hand, is riding high in sartorial public approval, and in complete contrast to Brown, was voted one of the most attractive and best dressed men in Britain. His suave signature style of beautifully tailored attire, crisp shirts and sometimes no tie, works on Obama for debonair flair, but looks a tad contrived on Cameron. Whilst style should be about having a look that is distinctive and reflects values, goals and character, Cameron is more the veneer of an orchestrated crowd, and though his cool classic look works well for him, oozing professionalism and composure, it also appears controlled. Always an emblem of the conservative party, Cameron’s chosen colour is blue, the most boring and generic of the rainbow, and traditionally worn by bankers to instill trust. Ahem. Despite been slated for his Gap-inspired, casual look during many a sporty ‘at-home’ photo shoot, Cameron usually pulls off his sterling style, which routinely comes from a team of advisors and his ever-so-trendy creative director wife.

Underdog Nick Clegg, may have topped the polls two weeks running, but it’s his eye contact, not his eye for style, that likely pulled the votes in. Like his policies, Clegg falls somewhere between Brown and Cameron, but where red and blue had previously dominated, enter the ray of sunshine, the golden M&S tie worn well by Clegg and standing out. Ties aside, Clegg goes for traditional classic suiting, usually off the peg, which paired with TM.Lewin-style shirts and his clear love of grooming products, can look dangerously immature and ‘City Boy’. Like Cameron, Clegg plays it safe with details, staying away from patterns and textures in favour of ‘plain and simple’, enhancing his clean cut image. On the whole, Clegg is still finding his style feet and could really up his sartorial ante and push some boundaries, given that he has nothing to lose, and an election for ‘something different’ to win.