Image means a lot in politics and in light of all the elections in 2012 Mindthis is out to celebrate the top 10 best-dressed politicians.
For some in the GOP Primaries, looking too good can drive voters away (think Mitt Romney), while for others a frumpy image may actually help (think Gingrich). Watching Romney over the years one can only conclude that he has been actively toning down his rich east-coast “CK underwear model meets Ralph Lauren” look by wearing boxy suits and seemingly old ties in an insincere attempt to get in touch with the American 99%.
Grading who are the best-dressed politicians is a very difficult task. To help, I have established two ground rules. First: no monarchs, no Popes or blue-blooded heads of state. This is fairly self-explanatory as they often have too much money and are not burdened by the need to take on different images like democratic or revolutionary leaders. The second rule is that the leaders must be alive. This means the late Muammar Gaddafi is out. He would have easily taken first place in a contest of who are the best-dressed politicians. Overall, the leaders are evaluated on three criteria: aesthetic/fashionable appeal; diversity of outfits; and overall image. Included are both the pillars of democracy and those who have a problem with it.
The Top 10 Best-Dressed Politicians
10. Dmitri Medvedev – Russia
Little Dmitri does a good job of maintaining a svelte figure and always looking polished. His suits are always fitted (almost too much at times) and he does a good job of looking like a real President of Russia. His ties may be a bit on the boring side, but he gets points for wearing French-cut cuffs and spread collars on occasion.
9. Barack Obama – USA
Obama dresses like a President—his style is distinctly “Commander-in-Chief”. However, he cannot be afforded too much credit; any American president would occupy the #9 best-dressed politician position. His stylists attempt to dress him so “presidentially” that he ends up looking like George W. Bush on most days. Slightly boxy, yet expensive suits are the hallmark, as are somewhat baggy shirts and simple ties. The only difference between Obama and Bush in the fashion department would be Obama’s comfort with striped ties.
8. Boyko Borisov – Bulgaria
The Prime Minister of Bulgaria is not on the list because he is a fashion icon. He is here because of his overall image. Boyko is a “man’s man”: an imposing figure with a black belt in Karate and much experience in post-Communist politics and private security. (The two often go together). In fact, his image is so tough he makes Vladimir Putin look like a prissy hairdresser.
7. Bingu wa Mutharika – Malawi
Bingu wa Mutharika is the current President of Malawi and the first African on the list of best-dressed politicans. Unlike the men above him Bingu does not hit the gym. That said, he does have a good tailor, as evidenced by his nice suits. Bonus points for having nice ties and not being afraid to rock a pocket square.
6. Stephen Harper – Canada
This may come to many as a surprise. However, Stephen Harper is one of the best-dressed world leaders. When he was first elected in 2006 his suits looked like they were purchased from a K-mart clearance rack. However, when the Conservative Party paid for a personal style consultant his image has greatly improved: his style gravitas went from that of a lowly-paid think tank employee to a top of our best-dressed politicians list. Kudos to Stephen for his style and bonus points for upholding Charter values.
5. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – Equatorial Guinea
Mr. Mbasogo has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 and his wardrobe show the fruits of his *cough* labour. Despite a terrible record of abuses President Mbasogo has found time to do some shopping. On top of bearing a slight resemblance to another leader on this best-dressed politicians list, one might suspect Mr. Mbasogo might be frequenting the same tailor.
4. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberia
President Johnson Sirleaf? What’s not to love! She is leading Liberia out of a dark past into a future of development in the 21st century. She also does a great job of dressing. One has to love her variety of outfits, materials and colours! Anyone interested in giving her a Nobel Prize for fashion?
3. Thein Sein – Burma
The President of Burma is widely seen as a reformer, but has yet to be recognized as a sharp dresser. This former military man cuts a clean figure and takes the number 3 spot for his diversity of outfits. He looks good in uniform, traditional dress, or in a business suit.
2. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – Argentina
President Kirchner has an excellent fashion sense. As President of Argentina she bears the burden of a long history of fashionable leadership (think Menem), and Cristina is near one of the best-dressed politicians out there. Despite her populist and anti-British rhetoric she is still a pleasure in light pastel and white business suits. The presidential sash really adds a nice touch for special occasions.
1. Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe
President Mugabe has been one of the best-dressed politicians for decades. Seriously, where does he get his suits made? His shirt/tie/puff combinations are always impeccable. So fashion-conscious is he that he recently launched a new line of club and revolutionary ware called “House of Gushungo,” a brand bearing his personal signature. Perhaps he is gunning for some free advertising by having his agents wear it while they conduct yet another illegal expropriation.
In concluding this light-hearted look at the fashion tastes of world leaders one can only draw one conclusion: good leaders are in the middle of the pack fashion wise. If they are dressed too well (Mugabe) they are probably corrupt and if they are dressed too whacky they are likely planning to implement some insane ideology (Gaddafi/Kim Jong Il). Democratic leaders like Harper and Obama do a good job of looking presentable for international events, while retaining enough appeal to average voters on election-day. Up next for Mindthis: the bottom 10 worst-dressed world leaders!