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How to dress for power

Does it matter what our leaders wear? A new book argues that the influence of female public figures is intimately linked to their sense of style

By Hugo Rifkind   March 2011

At a state dinner for the Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington this January, Michelle Obama opted for a red number by the late British designer Alexander McQueen. Flowing, satin, off one shoulder and hugging the other, it caused quite a fuss. “My understanding is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade,” said Oscar de la Renta, the Dominican-American designer, afterwards. “Why do you wear European clothes?”

The debate over Michelle’s alleged disloyalty to her nation was covered by almost every major paper in the English-speaking world, from the Washington Post to the Guardian to the Times of India.…

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