Fashioning Parliament: Stephen Harper’s Wardrobe Woes

My fierce Canadian pride and love of my Italian heritage are two of the most inspiring elements for my passion to design and manufacture menswear. I am a first generation Canadian, born of Italian parents, and I realized from an early age that my childhood was a wonderful experience of both Canadian and Italian influences.

Similar to many informed Canadians, I keep abreast of the comings and goings of our government representatives, especially Prime Minister Harper who is scrutinized on both a national and international level. I believe that our P.M. successfully navigated Canada through one of the toughest recessions in recent history, especially when compared to his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi, who has been the centre of scandal and has steered Italy’s economy and deficit to the worst point in his country’s history. However, where Harper has succeeded and Berlusconi has failed, the opposite is true of the two Prime Ministers when it comes to their wardrobes. Italy’s Prime Minister is always suitably attired for every requirement of his demanding position. Whether formal or casual, Berlusconi dresses for the occasion by wearing the appropriate ensemble necessitated by the circumstances. Most importantly, the Italian P.M.’s suits and accessories are chosen to compliment his skin tone and hair colour, while his clothing is tailored to properly fit his body type. Although there are many opinions on our P.M.’s performance, one thing is clear: Stephen Harper needs a new wardrobe, one which better suits his personality.

After sifting through many media images of Prime Minister Harper, I found three frequently occurring wardrobe issues. The first concern is the continual use of white dress shirts followed by poorly fitting suits and the noticeably inadequate options for casual attire.

White shirts are a staple for many professionals but personal skin tones and hair colour should be considered when selecting these garments. Stephen Harper’s skin tone, especially when accented by his whitening hair, is quite pale. White dress shirts compound the situation by washing out Harper’s features even more, making him look aged. This is a minor wardrobe issue, one that can easily be resolved by replacing white shirts with soft blue, grey or lavender tones. These colours easily match with navy, charcoal and black suits.

The Prime Minister’s suits are ill-fitting in many areas. First, Harper’s trousers are too long in the rise and too wide in the leg, creating a boxy look. Harper’s suit jackets tend to be too long in length and in the sleeves. A jacket’s length should be proportional to one’s torso, generally ending at the bottom of one’s seat, and sleeves should end at the wrist or just past it, depending on how much shirt cuff one prefers to show. Lastly, many of the Prime Minister’s jackets are not balanced, resulting in lifted fronts. A well balance suit should have the bottoms of a suit’s fronts parallel to the floor.

The Prime Minister’s biggest challenge is dressing casually. There are many ways to achieve a casual appearance, but removing one’s tie when wearing a dress shirt and suit is not one of them; unfortunately, Harper resorts to this method all too frequently. Men’s clothing is divided into several categories: formal, business attire, dress casual, casual, weekend and denim. Each category has its own norms and should be considered with relation to an event’s purpose, time and guest list. When an outfit is assembled without purpose, a man, even if he happens to be the Prime Minister, will make a poor impression and seem out of his element. As the country’s leader, Harper’s wardrobe needs to reflect his station, giving him the confidence to carry out his duties on a local and global stage.

Prime Minister Harper, I respect the job you are doing for Canada, but let us get your wardrobe up to speed. Prime Minister Berlusconi should have nothing on you!