We never tire of discussing the politics of style (or is it the style of politics?) and this country's increasingly-manic presidential campaign is inspiring lots of fashion-minded folk to weigh in. (Like Mark Fiore and his genius animated spoof on Project Runway and the Clinton campaign.) The question being posed today is, who would make a more stylish First Lady: Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain? The Guardian breaks down the two women's "qualifications" into the following categories: hairstyle, accessories, "x-factor," pre-campaign, occasion wear, and power suit. Should anyone even be evaluating these women for their preparedness for a position based on something as superficial as fashion? Probably not. But, hell, it's Friday. After the jump, we respond (in a highly partisan manner) to the Guardian's rankings and style the women for such First Lady events such as standing patiently at inauguration ceremonies and kissing sick babies in hospitals.
Hair Cindy McCain: They say: "Cindy's is white-picket-fence hair: sprayed into submission by a ton of Elnett, she's a blonde Marcia Cross in Desperate Housewives. In fact, if the Topshop salon had "Republican hair" listed on its blow-dry menu there would surely be a picture of Cindy McCain beside it." We say: Cracked out (pill habit!) former pageant queen. What happens when the JonBenets of the world get to actually grow up. Michelle Obama: They say: "Michelle's relaxed, flicked-up bob - particularly when she's accessorising with pearls - is reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy and could also be described as deeply American." We say: Called it ages ago. Their verdict: "[T]he Democratic bob has the edge over Cindy's neurotic blonde do, as it has more than a hint of Diana Ross (60s Supremes era) about it, and that can only be a good thing for a potential first lady. Our verdict: Michelle FTW, natch. Is this even a fair competition?
Accessories Cindy McCain: They say: "[She's been] carrying a Chanel bag [since] 2004. OK, it's not the classic 2.55, but if memory serves, this was the shape to carry that year." We say: An expensive bag does not a woman of style make. Michelle Obama: They say: "Michelle is fighting a negative campaign in those elasticated knee-length boots with skinny mid-height heel." We say: Ain't nothing wrong with those boots. Their verdict: "Cindy has the edge....Chanel trumps LK Bennett every time." Our verdict: Someone's hitting the same pill bottle as Cindy McC? Michelle, FTW, natch.
They say: "Cindy is some way towards achieving this. Her clothing consistency is satisfying: always immaculate, with never a hair out of place."
We say: When you use so much hairspray that never a hair is out of place, that earns you a big red 'X', not "x-factor".
They say: "She's starting to own the puffed sleeve - it works for her on blouses and even on a red tailored suit that she wore recently."
We say: Her look is great, but it's her spirit that's magnetic. That's what real x-factors are about.
Their verdict: "[McCain's] striving for perfection is also her un-doing: she doesn't know how to have fun with fashion."
Our verdict: Michelle FTW, natch.
They say: "Cindy is the more seasoned competitor...and looks as if she has more of a handle on White House chic....[S]he knows the power of a colour-blocked suit, simple jewellery and what look to be Chanel two-tone shoes."
We say: Terrifying: Then, now, always.
They say: "Michelle...looks sartorially unsure of herself, the pastels fighting with the austere ankle-length black skirt and long-line coat."
We say: Michelle's not unsure of herself. About anything. Have they never heard the woman speak?
Their verdict: "In politics an almost cartoon-ish approach to dressing often works best - and Cindy worked that out first."
My verdict: WTF?! Michelle FTW, natch.
They say: "Cindy, however, was a rodeo queen in Arizona in 1968 and it shows here. Hers is a look that worked for Krystal Carrington, but is less successful in the political context."
We say: Amen to that.
They say: "[D]esigners will be falling over themselves to dress her if she becomes first lady."
We say: Amen to that.
Their verdict: "Michelle is the front-runner here."
Our verdict: Michelle FTW, natch.
The Power Suit
They say: "Cindy delivers a masterclass in the trouser suit...Cindy's trouser suits have nothing of the woman-in-a-man's world about them; for her they look to be a positive choice."
We say: They do recall that they also called her a rodeo queen, right?
They say: "Michelle understands how to work tweed...It's a fabric that can be dowdy but the cut of the suit with the nipped-in waist shows off Michelle's figure in a way that immediately neutralises any frumpiness. Miuccia Prada would be proud."
We say: They do know they also compared her to Jackie, right?
Their verdict: "It's a draw."
My verdict: Michelle FTW, natch. It's not even a contest.
As we all know, if you're First Lady, you've gotta outfit yourself wholly in American designers. Here's what I think each of them should wear if they find themselves at the inauguration itself:
All eyes would be on Michelle in this sharp blue-gray Calvin Klein sheath (l) and this Ralph Lauren ensemble (R) could easily transition from the Hill to the rodeo.
And then at the Inaugural Ball:
The Obamas are the party of youth and revolution! Which is why Michelle Obama would shine in this gown (L) by up-and-coming youngster Frank Tell Koblitz. (Hey, he even got a shout-out in Teen Vogue this month: If that doesn't spell "revolution" I don't know what does. Also, he's one of the only designers who seems to get that fashion isn't just for white women!) And Cindy McCain would need a dress whose volume could match her massive hair: Thank goodness for this Bill Blass (R).
Or at a hospital, visiting sick kiddies, which is seems to be a real popular First Lady activity:
Sparkly flowers by Peter Som would make the kids smile when worn by Michelle, and hot pink by Diane von Furstenberg for Cindy would, well, at least distract them from their pain.
[Images via AP except for Frank Tell image, courtesy of Dan Lecca.]