But you can count on me, friends.
I am eminently NOT qualified to speak to her judicial qualifications for a seat on the bench. I just assume that she is in the ballpark or she wouldn’t have gotten this far. I assume she is extremely smart and capable.
But what she’s telegraphing through her clothing during these judicial confirmation hearings is another thing altogether.
No, I am not diminishing her accomplishments. No, I am not someone who thinks women’s value is in their appearance only, rather than on their brains and achievements. But I do think women do themselves a disservice when their brilliant minds aren’t reflected in the way that they present themselves to the world.
Such is the case with Elana Kagan — possibly a brilliant legal scholar and so on, but at least on one level, not really tuned into what a successful professional woman looks like, circa 2010.
The boxy jacket is an attempt to brighten her look, but it’s not the best shade for her (a warmer color would have been better). It’s boxy in a way intended to make her look slimmer, I imagine, but has the opposite effect. And even before I saw this photo, I was able to guess what she was wearing with the jacket (yawn): a black skirt of some sort, a black short-sleeve or sleeveless shell, sheer black stockings and sensible black shoes.
I want someone this smart to look smart, too, darn it!
Friends, we can learn from this.
For starters, color-blocking is pretty boring unless it is done in a style-conscious, fashion-forward way. Contrary to many women’s assumptions, black doesn‘t match every other color — an outfit based on a black bottom and some-top-or-other isn’t really a put-together outfit. Sure, it may be what everyone else at your DC law firm is wearing, but it isn’t fashion. It isn’t even close. You can do better, and I suspect that deep down you already know it.
Instead, how about a dress? How about a cardigan over it or a cute jacket? Hell, how about a suit with something underneath in a different color or texture or pattern. Mix it up — act as if your clothing is saying something about yourself, because — guess what? — it is! And I know people get bored of hearing it, but what about Michelle Obama’s more professional clothing? (Not all of her clothing, because a lot of it is too cheerful and decorative to be suitable to the halls of power in Washington, DC.)
What do you think about her outfit? If you were nominated to the Supreme Court, what would you wear to the first day of your confirmation hearings?
Update: After listening to Kagan’s testimony, I’m more convinced than ever that she needs a style update — she’s funny and smart, but her image doesn’t telegraph it.
(Ketura Persellin is an image consultant and personal stylist based in Washington, DC. She blogs about personal style and particularly loves writing about the personal style of our most prominent political figures.)