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Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion [Paperback]

Robb Young
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

11 Feb 2011
Some find the constant scrutiny an unwelcome intrusion; others use fashion as their secret weapon. Whatever their views, women in politics know they will be judged by how they dress more than their male counterparts. In Power Dressing, fashion journalist Robb Young offers an engaging perspective on the ability of style to influence the careers of women politicians and first ladies. Concise thematic chapters are interspersed with profiles of more than 50 serving and former women presidents, prime ministers, MPs, royals and wives from over 30 countries, ranging from such contemporary figures as Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Queen Rania of Jordan to such iconic women as Eva Perón, Imelda Marcos and Margaret Thatcher. Featuring hundreds of photographs that shed light on political context, and quotes from prominent figures commenting on each woman s style, this fascinating book reveals the milestone 'fashion moments' as well as the unspoken rules of the political fashion game.

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Merrell (11 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1858945151
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858945156
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 19 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robb Young is contributing journalist for the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune and among other publications. Specialising in the cultural, business and broader human angles on fashion, his writing has also appeared in Newsweek, the New York Times style magazine "T", Vogue Pelle, Vogue Gioiello, the Independent, the Guardian newspapers and more. Young is senior editor at Luxury Society (, a B2B luxury industry news source and online professional networking organisation. He has lived or worked in all the major international fashion capitals and many emerging markets, editing magazines in Tokyo and New York, adjudicating fashion contests around Europe, and consulting in Asia and the Middle East. Before embarking on his career, Young pursued international relations with a specialty in political economy at Syracuse University, receiving a Bachelor's degree one year ahead of schedule with 'summa cum laude' top honours and then completed an intensive course at the London College of Fashion in England. Based happily in London, he travels extensively around the globe in search of compelling news, perspectives, products and talent.

Product Description


"A must-read" -- Vogue (UK)

"Women of any age and any career stage will find strong ideas for self-presentation here, along with refreshing new style icons." -- Wall Street Journal

"In the ivory tower occupied by political pundits, Young s book might just make some waves, opening up an honest dialogue about a subject that has remained intellectually taboo despite the relentless tabloid-like attention it attracts." -- New York Times

"Every woman plotting her way to the top should read Power Dressing ..." -- International Herald Tribune

"Power Dressing ... is an entertaining, thoughtful account of the role of clothing in politics, and the myriad ways good, bad and ugly that women all over the world have used it to communicate their ideas and their power." --Forbes

"It's about time someone, well, addressed the subject with the intelligence it deserves. Enter Robb Young..." --Financial Times

"...a marvelous book featuring high quality photographs of fabulous clothing" -- Technorati

"Full colour photographs on every page illustrate this compelling collection, brimming with unspoken rules of the fashion social game at the highest levels of political power." -- California Bookwatch

"...a timely guide to dressing at the top" --Time Out

Fashion provides an original entry into the mess complexity of world politics, and Young gives it the intelligence, style and wit it deserves. --Worn Journal

...a timely guide to dressing at the top -- Time Out

Power dressing is not just about fashion, nor is it just about culture. It is both of those things, and so much more... -- --January Magazine Review

About the Author

Robb Young is a London-based contributing fashion journalist for the Financial Times and its The Business of Fashion supplement, the International Herald Tribune and, among other publications.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A long overdue look at the power of fashion 5 Sep 2011
I really enjoyed Power Dressing and, having read it, I'm surprised it took so long for a book on this subject to emerge. Mr Young writes with humour and eloquence of how political woman have used fashion to strengthen their status and support their men since the Tang Dynasty. One of the book's most astute quotes comes from Bernard Arnault: "Politics and fashion mingle in dinners, parties, fashion shows. Let's not be hypocritical about it. [Let's] accept the fact that the two worlds are closer than
most people think."

I expected familiar profiles of style icons like Carla Bruni, Jackie O and Michelle Obama but Young takes a fresh look at each one, citing rare sources and including apt quotes. His research is not only meticulous but comprehensive. Alongside well-known trendsetters, his profiles include the wife of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Azam Al Sadat Farahi, and Turkey's First Lady, Emine Erdogan.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Young's exploration of the communicative power of clothing. In India, for example, the style of a politician's sari can indicate partisan allegiances. Mrs Thatcher's attempts to safeguard the British rebate while "handbagging" a conference table was less subtle. Even if a woman rejects fashion, Young observes, her dress still communicates something. Aspiring politicians, take note.

Young's US profiles are the most fascinating. I wasn't aware that the furs and razor-sharp tailoring Nancy Reagan spent millions on was much about besting Raisa Gorbachev as Democratic wives. Knee-high boots made Condoleezza Rice look like a whole new woman. Those Democratic ladies have transformed rapidly to accommodate digital culture, too, looking at Michelle Obama and post-Vogue Hilary Clinton.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interpretations of the fashion of the world's leading women 4 April 2011
By Henry Berry - Published on
Fittingly, a full-page photograph of Jackie Kennedy faces the Foreword. For Jackie is widely recognized as the first woman in the spotlight of politics and public affairs to draw attention to what she wore with related interest in what bearing this had on the image of JFK and his administration. As Golbin writes in her brief Foreword, "Strong, clear, and striking, Jacqueline Kennedy's political wardrobe was similar to a theatre costume, conveying specific character traits with one sole objective: to promote the values of her husband's political platform. By embracing the power of the image and adapting her attire accordingly, she set new standards and became an ambassador for the modern power dresser."

The role of clothing of a prominent woman in not only creating an image, but in communicating values and ideas has gone far beyond Jackie Kennedy's presence in the 1960s. Many women have since become leaders of nations or had top political positions, and others have had prominent, leading roles in other areas of public affairs. Author Robb Young decodes the clothing style and its details of color, accessories, etc., of Margaret Thatcher, Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and many other notable women. Short essays on "Power Pearls," "Sari Politics," and similar categories of wear point out the significance of these. Young's broad, global reach includes dress of women from African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries that is not so familiar to many readers.

Abundantly illustrated with color photos on glossy pages, the book is not only entertaining and informative as popular journalism, but also delves into how clothing of prominent and influential women offers clues to what is going on around the world. As Young notes in his Preface, the book is timely because "the ongoing struggle for women's equality in the political arena is at a very exciting point [and] clothes and grooming can act as a revealing mirror to much bigger issues and reflect the wearer's evolving identity."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super informative 19 Mar 2011
By cat817 - Published on
This is an extremely informative book about the fashion of the world's most powerful women. It's interesting and very well written. I loved it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Editing 28 Dec 2011
By drpepper430 - Published on
Power Dressing is an interesting book that gives a brief history on fashion and politics along with the different experiences of women in politics. It also profiles 50 women in politics or first wives. It has a different take on each women, some are about their terrible or great fashion sense, while others show how women politicians shaped the fashion choices of the women that would follow them. All of the profiles are very brief and the book itself is much like a coffee table book, with lots of pictures and glossy pages. Note: the book has some nudity.

I was very disappointed that so far I found two profiles that are incomplete. The profile on the wife of the President of Iran and the wife of the former PM of Iran ends on an incomplete sentence and the next page is a blank page. The profile on Imelda Marcos looks like it may be just missing a period at the end of the last sentence, but I'm not sure. I don't know if this is a mistake on the part of the publisher. Whatever the reason it is very annoying that the book wasn't properly edited or published. The book also has several blank pages which do not seem to serve a purpose.

UPDATE: I contacted the publisher and it appears that I received a messed up copy. Due to this I upped my review from 3 to 4 stars. I chose to keep my copy of the book as I had already marked up the book. Even though the book was a coffee table style book, I read it in a few days. I like to read about women politicians and fashion, and would recommend this book to someone interested in fashion.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book! 19 Mar 2011
By woofmeowcheep - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love how one can pick up this book and be informed, enlightened, educated a bit, as well as entertained. What a well written piece of work. I know more about these women through this book than I did before I read it. The pictures are quite a nice addition. It has a place on my coffee table, for sure. A well put together book which I highly recommend.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, no deeper analysis 8 Sep 2013
By claudia hulshof - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I liked to read this book. It is a challenging subject, difficult to write about, I think. It is well written and provides some interesting points of view on power dressing. Minor point is - in my view - that I don't have a deeper understanding of power dressing than before - as done by women in his book. The analysis is not going very deep. When the writer approves on the way a women dresses herself he does not explain why he approves. Many writers - coming from fashion writing - can write books and long articles, and leave me behind asking myself what deeper understanding I have now, of fashion, power dressing (in this case), good and bad dressing. I want to learn more, I like more intelligent analysis, less describing.

I hope I make myself clear, English is not my native language.
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