Reviews | How Kyrsten Sinema uses clothes to signal his social class


We use “middle class” interchangeably with other powerful nationalist signifiers such as “citizen”, “voter” and “American”. And, while my progressive comrades may balk at this comparison, if you compare Sinema to some of Congress’ best-known politicians, her style is by far the most accessible to her constituents. I know enough about fashion, and how much it costs, to know that few American women can afford to dress like, say, Nancy Pelosi, supernaturally turned. In fact, part of what makes Sinema’s style performance so uncomfortable for many of us is how middle class she is: she doesn’t seem to be trying to do better. But that doesn’t mean her style story lacks aspiration.

Mears said Sinema’s presentation reads like “someone with a catalog budget but trying to imagine what this high-end editorial looks like, someone who aspires to be cool and bold.” A dimension of class in Sinema’s sartorial performance is that it is basic but ambitious, not in potency, but in freshness. Mears writes extensively about the world of high fashion and how men and women negotiate power.

Mears’ experience as a model gives her first-hand knowledge of how class is coded, not only in the clothes we wear, but also in the bodies that wear them. In elite nightclubs and social events where beautiful people congregate, female beauty is a commodity billed as the price of admission. “The normative body would be a white man,” Mears said, and in a world where white men are the body by default, all other aspects of power – from race and gender to class and sexuality – must negotiate with them to gain access to powerful powers. places. In such places, being a beautiful woman is an admission requirement.

The Beltway, with its culture of power and politics, is also a “male place”, as Mears described it. One of the reasons Sinema’s style stands out is this backdrop. There are a small number of roles written for women, just like in society in general. One can be an ingenuous, an intermediary, an elite or a foreigner.

Each role comes with a performance that shapes the political message and, as Mears said, “chooses your audience.” Sinema distinguishes herself by trying to combine different aspects of multiple roles for women politicians. The tight-fitting clothes whisper ingenuously, innocent of the rules. Bright colors, wigs and accessories scream stranger, someone who knows the rules and ignores them. Bold designs, in any silhouette other than her favorite, might signal a power broker or an elite. But overall, they’re communicating with someone who may be aware of the roles that female politicians are locked into but who doesn’t play in any of them all the time.

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