The Fashion Whip: America’s Love Affair with Leading Couples

The Fashion Whip: America’s Love Affair with Leading Couples

Fashion Whip is a political style column in the Huffington Post by Lauren A. Rothman, inspired by Lauren’s experience as the founder of  Styleauteur, a style and fashion consulting firm.

WASHINGTON – The GOP 2012 campaign is off and running with the Republican ticket almost officially complete, and Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s choice for veep. Politics aside, style gossip surrounding the new ticket has zoomed in on Ryan’s baggy suits a la Ron Paul, his consistent choice of checked shirts and his cowlick. And though we’d like to think otherwise, a campaign is not just run (or won) come November with the names on the ballot – it is influenced by the image of the foursome America is just getting to know.

The Romneys and Ryans photograph well together; Ann, Mitt, Janna, and Paul look like coeds frolicking on the lawn of an Ivy League campus, but with a dash of reality. This campaign lacks the plastic Barbies from Stepford (Cindy McCain, Callista Gingrich, Michele Bachmann ) and the ‘ambush makeover’ of Sarah Palin. In fact, of the four, only Mitt never has a hair out of place or a bead of sweat on his face.

President Obama and first lady Michelle are the reigning homecoming king and queen, but Mitt and Ann Romney are like the head of Greek life. Powerful, but not yet in charge. Both are power couples but only one will consolidate their hold on leadership. The Obama’s social presence in Washington, DC has been said to have the Oprah effect – even in a tough economy, such a couple can help keep a restaurant or hamburger joint on the map with one visit. Just the type of positive PR the tourism bureau needs!

America is only now starting to picture a different future. One led by two dark-haired good-looking men with a strong physical resemblance (they appear as almost a father/son duo) supported by blue-eyed friendly blondes. Mitt in his man-of-the-people Gap jeans and button down or his GOP leading man uniform of a debonair suit. At his side, Ann could be in couture or trying hard to master business casual. The dated, ill-fitting pants Paul Ryan wears indicate he does not share Mitt’s tailor, while Janna is a happy bargain shopper . We may hate to think people vote based on image, but there is no doubt the GOP wants you questioning which “team image” should represent this country.

Although American history is full of forgotten men, the role of a strong VP is bolstered by an indelible and unforgettable professional image. We want to see a super fit Ryan campaigning in clothing that actually fits and then teaching Hoda and Kathy Lee his P90X moves on the Today Show showing off his ‘human’ side. We want to see Janna debuting Kirna Zabete for Target because shopping on a budget is chic. Michelle Obama herself is a pro at mixing high and low brands – and adding a belt to her ensembles. Don’t steal her look but do use your enviable figure. The Bidens are a stylish couple who keep the status quo – Jill enjoys fashion and Joe always looks polished.

The Obamas edge out the competition when it comes to style, accessibility and poise. They are relatable, stylish, and a rags-to-riches success story that helps keep dreams alive. They have perfected the updated “Americana” look with Sasha and Malia wearing J.Crew, Michelle supporting independent designers like Jason Wu, Thakoon, Isabel Toledo , and President Obama in Hart Schaffner Marx.

We will undoubtedly become infatuated with the GOP foursome over the next two months and compare their political love story to the Obama-Biden relationship. America, take notice – the best outfits are yet to come.