Middle-class is used synonymously with other potent nationalist signifiers such as citizen, voter, and American.
And while my progressive buddies might scoff at this, when compared to some of the most prominent politicians in Congress, Sinema’s style is by far the most approachable to her supporters.
How Kyrsten Sinema Uses Clothing to Signal her Social Class
In my experience, few American women have the disposable income to dress like, say, the mystical Nancy Pelosi.
The fact that Sinema appears to be content with her middle-class lifestyle is a major factor in why her fashion choices make many of us uneasy. However, it is not to say that her fashion narrative is not inspiring.
According to Mears, Sinema comes off in her presentation as “someone who has a catalogue budget but tries to picture what this high-end magazine looks like, someone who desires to be cool and bold.”
Sinema’s sartorial performance has a touch of sophistication thanks to the fact that it is understated but bold, not in terms of strength but of originality. Mears has written extensively on the topic of gender power dynamics in the high fashion industry.
Mears’s background as a model has given her first-hand insight into the ways in which social status is communicated through the garments we wear and the bodies that wear them. Female attractiveness is often advertised as a requirement for entry to high-end nightclubs and social gatherings where the rich and famous congregate.
places, and in a world where white males are the body by default, all other dimensions of power – from race and gender to class and sexuality – must negotiate with them. To gain entry to such establishments, one must demonstrate that she is a stunning female.
As Mears put it, the Beltway is a “man place” because of the prevalence of male power figures and politicians there.
Sinema’s work stands out in part because of this setting. Like in society at large, there are only so many roles that can be written for women. An individual can be nave, an intermediate, an elite, or a foreigner.
To paraphrase Mears, “chooses your audience” is an integral part of every performance, and this includes political roles.
Sinema stands out from other female politicians because she tries to juggle a number of traditionally separate roles. Whispers of ingenuity and a lack of respect for the norm may be heard from the snugly fitted garments.
Wearing garish patterns, wigs, and accessories draws attention and suggests that the wearer is an outsider who is aware of the norms but chooses to disregard them nevertheless.
A powerful broker or elite may be signalled by a bold design in a silhouette different from the one she chooses. Overall, though, they’re talking to someone who isn’t necessarily stuck in any of the stereotypes associated with women in politics.