Osborne and Cameron at G8: stylewatch

David Cameron Profile

Not for the first time, the dress code has proved to be one of the trickier aspects of the G8 agenda.

Style novice George Osborne underlined the dilemma with his sartorial excuse to BBC Breakfast on Tuesday. "I'm doing what I was asked," he said. "I got out my jacket and blue shirt." Forget tax and Syria, smart-casual is tough for these guys.

Cameron demonstrated yet again that for him sleeves rolled up and no jacket semaphores getting down to business. He famously did it on the campaign trail all-nighter and he's done it at Lough Erne. For him a suit jacket and tie is for everyday prime ministerial humdrum but real power dressing – when he's hosting international leaders – means pale blue cotton and unironed chinos.

So who decided that pale blue cotton simultaneously said smart-casual and (if they could pull it off) political confidence? It's unclear, but perhaps it has something to do with the dubious style template set by Tony Blair when he met a bomber jacket-wearing George Bush at Camp David wearing a too-stiff jumper and navy trousers. It was winter then, but what was poking out from underneath Blair's crew neckline? A pale blue cotton shirt, that's what.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Imogen Fox, for The Guardian on Tuesday 18th June 2013 22.19 Europe/London

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