Scottish politics – what do the clothes tell us?

posted in: Colour Analysis, Style advice | 11

Last Friday we heard that the Scottish people had voted to remain in the United Kingdom. Phew! Now the temperature has cooled somewhat I will review the Scottish National Party which recently lost the referendum to become a separate country, from the point of view of the clothes. The party is currently led by Alex Salmond who, on Saturday, announced he would be standing down at the next SNP conference. The Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon is likely to become the next leader, meaning that in Scotland all three main party leaders – Conservative, Labour and SNP – will be female.

With Nicola Sturgeon I feel it is all about the hair.sturgeon at schoolDuring the 1980s this kind of “punk” hairstyle was very popular (I had one myself), and you can see Nicola’s natural colouring. Deep brown eyes, heavy eye brows, and almost black hair. The deep red school tie actually looks quite nice on her. A strong confident look set off with a genuinely warm smile. She joined the Scottish Nationalist Party when she was 16 and qualified as a solicitor. In the next photograph we have her campaigning for a seat in the Scottish parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon campaigning
Nicola Sturgeon campaigning

Now she sports a grown up hair-style and her thick dark brown hair is flattered by her black and red outfit; the strong red lipstick looks good although it does emphasise her slightly thin upper lip. Her hair looks glossy and thick and possibly needed a more sophisticated hair cut. You can tell she is a serious politician in this photograph, and is able to listen with empathy to her constituents.

In the next photograph we can see that Nicola’s hair is now naturally grey. But instead of working with that, or celebrating it, she has gone for a range of reddish shades from deep red to strawberry blonde to streaky bacon. While the cut is better I feel her eyes and eyebrows demand a cooler palette – if she let the grey show it would soften her dark brown hair considerably and I think it would look great.  In all the modern photographs of her I feel her deep eyes and cool skin tone  fight with her light warm red hair, which is picking up the wood tones in her office rather than coordinating with her pretty face. She has to wear quite a lot of thick foundation, blusher and bronzer to match her hair.

The outfit itself is nice enough – a silvery grey dress and jacket from Austin Reed or similar. Plain, conservative business wear with a pleasant necklace that works well with her eyes. I feel this look would be much improved by a more authentic hair colour.

Nicola Strurgeon in grey suit
Nicola Sturgeon in grey

Alex Salmond is wearing his usual pin-stiped navy suit which fits quite well as looks fine with his equally dark colouring. Here Nicola is wearing with the same red and black look she favoured earlier on. She has fixed her hair and tackled the eyebrows and has been running, to tone up. She looks more packaged now and it seems to me that the image makers have made her more “feminine” to work as a balance and contrast to her boss. They are now being promoted as a double act – a complementary pair – male/female, old/young, left/right, adversarial/consiliatory.

With Alex Sammond earlier this year
With Alex Sammond earlier this year

Sitting with the Scottish Cabinet we can see that Nicola has very nice legs which she sets off with high heels. Her purple outfit is a bit Mother of the Bride. The men in the cabinet seem to have been instructed to wear striped ties in as many colours as they can find. Maybe an aide bought a job lot at the Charity shop in order to break up the charcoal suits and grey hair. Or perhaps they all play cricket? It is a picture of the deepest Conservatism. Not a kilt, tartan tie, or a thistle in sight. An Aran sweater? A Harris tweed jacket? A woolen scarf made locally? I wonder why? What are they trying to say in this image? What kind of nationalism is it, if you strip out any nationalist emblems from your outfit and conform to the standard set by an English parish council?

Scottish Cabinet
Scottish Cabinet

In the past airline “British” Caledonian made it clear they were Scottish with their beautiful tartan uniforms. It might be a bit much for day to day campaigning but the only picture I have of Alex in a kilt he seems to be sending it up.

Alex Salmond in a kilt ad stetson
Alex Salmond in a kilt, for the American audience

11 Responses

  1. @TheSohoMod

    Kate, how witty! And true. I guess they avoid kilts thistles and tartans because they don’t want to be a cliché, but you are right there must be a way to show you beliefs commitments and allegiances with your clothes in a subtle and sophisticated way. I was very relieved the UK remains in tact.

  2. annieloveslinen

    Nicola has a youthful face and it looks like she has gone grey early she may have been disguising it for a while. Taking the plunge and embracing the grey is not for the faint hearted, yet in her case it could look great and it would add gravitas to her image. She should enhance her eyes and have well defined strong eyebrows shaped to frame them.

    Women like Betty Jackson and Margaret Mountford carry silver off to great effect, although to be fair they are much older than Nicola who is in her mid forties.

    Love these posts Kate.

  3. Joyce

    I too had the punk hair due…and it served me well, for a very long time……..but now…….now its time for the grown up hair due………still working on that one.
    I love these posts as I find them so original………….keep em coming Kate!

  4. Stephanie

    This is so funny! I wish I could get my colleagues together – with their grey suits and somber ties they would possibly co-ordinate with nothing so much as the carpet in the office. 🙂

    I often wonder why more women don’t exploit the beauty of their natural grey hair. It’s original, as so few women in their 40s or 50s do it. Just the other day someone told me I should colour my hair, which is starting to go grey, but I say pshaw. We have a culturally-determined idea that women look “old” with grey hair while men do not, but we need to undo this idea. It’s just plain wrong! There’s even a fashion director in her 20s who shows up on many of the blogs because she went prematurely grey and left it (and she’s gorgeous). Anyhow, I’ll get off my soap box. I agree that Nicola would look great with her thick hair in its natural form.

  5. Moira w

    Came across this, very funny! Am sitting watching the Scottish debate, I see that Nicola has recently had her eyebrows done, what a difference, and the hair is less like a helmet… long last she must have a style adviser who had told her the score but she needs to bin the puff sleeved jackets. Finally, nice pins but she needs to be shown how to walk in heels!

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