France : Fashion is an integral part of women’s lives in politics

While it rarely arises for men in politics, why does the question of dress arise more for women in power ? The dress code has constantly evolved over the years for women who wish to move away from traditional men’s suits and emphasize their femininity.


For centuries, men have been the only ones in power in France, but things have changed, at least on the surface. In June 1936, three women were appointed ministers (or “under-secretaries of state”) in Léon Blum’s Popular Front government, even though they were, like all women of their time, neither voters nor eligible. On 6 June 2000, the law to promote equal access of women and men to electoral mandates and elective functions was passed.


However, the issue of women’s dress in politics is much more delicate than for their male counterparts. In fact, for several years now, women’s dress in politics has been scrutinised, analysed, dissected and has fuelled debate in the media. This phenomenon has accelerated since the advent of the Internet and social networks.


We remember, for example, the fashionista Rachida Dati, Minister of Justice from 2007 to 2009, who embodied the bling-bling era of President Sarkozy. “A whirlwind of haute couture dresses, pumps and diamonds,” remarks Valérie Domain in her book Total look. A style of dress that had never before been so criticized for a minister.



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In times of crisis, when the country is experiencing economic difficulties, Rachida Dati was quickly criticized for flaunting her wealth. “In France, external and ostentatious signs of prosperity are not well perceived,” analyses Frédéric Godart, a sociologist and lecturer at Insead in Fontainebleau. Although if you look at the prices of politicians’ suits, many would be very surprised. The norm is sobriety, a return to austerity both economically and in clothing. “Sunglasses, even if they don’t cost much, give a bling-bling effect. What counts is not the reality, but the public perception of it.”


How do you dress as a woman in politics?


Fashion is an integral part of life in politics. It is a strategic point and a political weapon like any other in the race for power. A political speech is as much about the choice of words, gestures and physical appearance.


Time has brought new freedoms to women in terms of fashion, but in politics one cannot allow oneself to do everything as this can quickly become the subject of debate, criticism and controversy. Women must therefore opt for a combination of classicism and femininity, symbolised by the skirt suit, to gain access to power.


“More and more women are freeing themselves from the constraints of the strict suit or trouser suit of their elders, obliged to erase all signs of femininity in order to impose themselves in ultra-codified universes”, analysed Muriel Fitoussi, author of the book Femmes au pouvoir, femmes de pouvoir.


© Getty


Women politicians who have made their mark


Some women have made their mark on the political scene thanks to their courage, ideas and looks.


Simone Veil fought against the criminalisation of abortion, the fate of prisoners, anti-Semitism and for a united and peaceful Europe, all the while maintaining her precious allure in suits or blouses from the House of Chanel. Gabrielle Chanel‘s revolutionary tweed suit became her eternal uniform. Gabrielle Chanel liberated women with functional fashion, imposing themselves as men in a tweed suit, a fabric assimilated to men’s suits.


© Presse


In 1991, for the first time a woman, Edith Cresson, was appointed Prime Minister. This appointment led to many comments on the minister’s outfits, which were discredited by her flashy suits.



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Roselyne Bachelot, appointed Minister of Culture in Jean Castex‘s first government, under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, does not fail to amaze with her confidence and audacity. A fan of colourful and highly original outfits, Roselyne Bachelot is often in the news for her surprising and surprising looks. We remember in particular her apple green total look, at Emmanuel Macron’s re-investiture ceremony at the Élysée Palace in May 2022. The former minister delighted Internet users and showed her desire to stand out by affirming her ecological commitment.


© Stéphane Lemouton/Bestimage


If the looks of women in politics are closely scrutinized at each of their public outings – the first lady Brigitte Macron did not escape – let’s hope that the gaze on them is inclined to change.





Featured photo : © Presse

Grâce à une veille accrue et à une excellente connaissance de ces secteurs, la rédaction de Luxus Magazin décrypte pour ses lecteurs les principaux enjeux économiques et technologiques de la mode, l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, la gastronomie, les parfums et cosmétiques, l’hôtellerie, et l’immobilier de prestige.


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