Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Farage: which party leader needs a makeover?

Can the cut of their suits, the colour of their ties, or their hairstyles sway the electorate? With the general election a year away today, which of the leaders would benefit from a new look?


Miliband desperately needs some swagger. Swagger is essential in a leader. You can have the aggressive kind (José Mourinho) or the cool kind (Barack Obama), but you've got to have it. The quickest way to purchase instant swagger is to order two martinis in quick succession, but this probably isn't a sustainable or healthy strategy during a long election campaign.

The next best way to buy swagger is with good clothes and a good haircut. (The quickest way to judge whether you should buy any item of clothing is whether you feel a bit of extra swagger when you put it on.)

Miliband's hair is a particular issue, as he is fond of a vague, fuzzy, not-short, not-long style that makes him look like a geeky extra on The Inbetweeners. He has, bafflingly, declined to follow this desk's recent suggestion of a Bradley Cooper hairstyle so may we propose he gives his barber a photo of Jon Hamm? A tiny bit more shark – and shark is what Hamm has in spades – would be no bad thing. Voters believe that Miliband is honest; they would respect him more if they thought he had a bit more cunning.

Miliband already has some good suits – the Spencer Hart number he wore to conference in September was sharp – but he needs to pay more attention to the details. For instance, the trousers and sleeves of his suits are often a little too long. An inch or two of fabric chopped off would sharpen things up a little.


Unlike Miliband, Cameron is at ease with the fact that image matters. (This is a man who gave his hairdresser an MBE.) But that doesn't mean he's getting it right. He can give the impression of looking unnecessarily pleased with himself. I'm thinking of that dreadful tweeted photograph of him looking serious on the phone to the White House, which might as well have been tagged "check me out talking Syria on the phone to Barack #statesmanship". He is the prime minister; taking selfies of himself doing his job is naff.

More worryingly in terms of holding the public attention, his look is unbelievably boring. Even his holiday wardrobe appears to consist of long- and short-sleeved navy polo neck tops and really bad shoes. In a political landscape where the personalities who most engage the public's attention are Russell Brand and Boris Johnson, surely it's time other politicians wised up to the idea that looking a bit different could be a good thing?


OK, you've got me here. Even as a staunch believer in the transformative power of fashion, I cannot put my hand on my heart and say I honestly believe there is a suit out there that could make the world fall in love with Nick Clegg again. Even if you put every tailor in Savile Row to work on creating the sleekest, sharpest, most flattering, most elegant, most poised suit, it wouldn't be enough.

And anyway, he'd kill it off with a yellow tie, loo-brush hair and that trademark Nick-Clegg-Looking-Sad expression.


The good news is that one of the party leaders is taking heed of the fact that in the Russell Brand age of politics, looking a bit different might actually play well with an electorate who will otherwise write you off as part of a slimy, self-interested, all-as-bad-as-each-other political class. The bad news is, it's Nigel Farage. Farage's outfit on the Andrew Marr show – a shiny grey suit with an extraordinarily jaunty and completely uncoordinating lilac-and-multicoloured-spots tie – was eye-catching. And yet that was nothing compared with his wardrobe, worn while campaigning in the west country, of bright yellow corduroy trousers, checked shirts, tweed or waxed jacket, a selection of ties that one must generously assume were Christmas presents, accessorised with a red rose or a flat cap, as the mood suits. It's a strong look, no doubt about that. It's a look that laughs in the face of hipsters and enjoys a convivial lunchtime pint. In the traditional British dress codes that Farage was at one point keen on reinstating, his is the uniform of someone who's A Bit Of A Character. Farage's look is one that no spin doctor would ever sanction, which is exactly why it seems to be working.


Jess Cartner-Morley

The GuardianTramp

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