It is the fate of all “political wives” (and it is always wives, sadly) to be treated like a mannequin by the press. Their wardrobes are dissected almost as thoroughly as their husband’s policies—it is now such an expected feature of media coverage that details of their outfits are sometimes sent to journalists in press releases.
As a result, there are certain rules that must be followed:
1) Whatever you wear, it must be “from the high street.” When the press provides a detailed description of what you were wearing, it is guaranteed that they will also mention the price (“The wife of the Tory leader sported a £65 dress from Marks & Spencer…”). The message this sends to voters is that you are an “ordinary” family, with ordinary concerns. Wearing an expensive designer dress would be a telltale sign that you are, in fact, not. (Sam Cam made a mistake in 2010 when she wore a dress worth £749—or, as The Guardian put it, “36.8 first-child benefit payments”). In any case, if your husband is willing to spend £1,500 on a dress, God knows what he’ll do with the economy…
… To continue reading click here to visit the Prospect website. Originally published 24 September 2013.