The First Lady wore a bright, marigold dress to the State of the Union on Tuesday night and the bold color caught the eye of the media (a quick Google search returns more than 8,000 hits).
A feminist might cringe a little at just how much attention FLOTUS gets for her fashion and looks—I know I often do. But many women would also agree Michelle Obama is inspirational, and would love to imitate her for her career and political successes. She happens to be a style icon, as well.
There’s a way to discuss fashion in politics (as much as it exists) that doesn’t reinforce the patriarchy. That’s by starting with the obvious: Making fashion coverage less lopsided, and turning attention to the men who take risks, as well. I don’t just mean Marco Rubio’s shoes. It’s past time for Washington to leave behind its dominant view that men can’t diverge from its boring uniform of dark, ill-fitting suits (remember Barack Obama’s tan suit?). Just as many men could be interested in the subject as women, but one reason for the uneven coverage is clothes are traditionally considered “soft news,” which the media too often conflates with women’s issues.
Yes, talk about inspirational D.C. women and their fashion, but we desperately need more men’s fashion criticism, too. Just avoid the sexism.