Why Hillary Clinton always wears pantsuits

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Hillary Clinton and pantsuits are inseparable. The former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State wears almost nothing else when appearing in public. In an interview, she talks about this conscious choice. A choice that had nothing to do with fashion, image, or style. She made this choice out of discomfort and frustration.

Why Hillary Clinton Always Wears Pantsuits
Photo: United States government employees (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton in lingerie campaign

In September 2022, CBS News published a video in which Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were interviewed. The conversation took place to promote “Gutsy,” the new documentary series by the mother and daughter. They speak with various women about their lives and each other’s.

During this interview, Hillary’s conscious choice for pantsuits was also discussed. This topic is addressed in the video below from minute 4 onwards.

Hillary recounts how in 1995, when she was First Lady, her clothing caused a stir during a work visit to Brazil. At one point, she sat on a bench while the press took photos of her. Although she thought she looked neat, photographers managed to capture a small piece of her underwear.

The photos were subsequently used by lingerie brand Duloren to promote their underwear. The advertisement was displayed on billboards, among other places. In Portuguese, the photo stated: “Mr. President of the United States of America: Your Excellency cannot imagine what Duloren can do.” Below, in small letters: “A tribute to one of the most important women of the decade.”

Why Hillary Clinton Always Wears Pantsuits

According to the advertising agency that created the advertisement, the intention was not to disrespect Clinton. The lingerie brand itself added that “bold women don’t mind showing their panties.”

However innocent the makers portrayed the advertisement, it had serious consequences for the First Lady. The incident became a catalyst for photographers to take more photos of her underwear. Every time she was on stage or climbed stairs, the press was busy photographing her from below. All with the aim of capturing a photo of her underwear. She couldn’t cope with it and decided to start wearing pantsuits.

The many pantsuits of Hillary

Hillary Clinton when she still wore skirts

She should have known better

The story once again highlights what women in public positions are confronted with. Young girls are generally raised with the idea that they should look beautiful and behave properly. Any girl who opposes this will feel resistance from their environment.

This mindset persists into later life. Especially a woman in a public position can rarely do right. Especially when it comes to image and clothing. Unlike men in public positions, the focus on women is often placed on their appearance. While rarely does anyone comment on the suits worn by men in politics, of which there is plenty to criticize, every detail of a woman’s appearance is scrutinized. How does she look and why is she wearing certain clothes? What accessories and from what brand? What does she want to convey? And more importantly; she is judged for it.

Where a crooked tie on a man is seen as a ‘clumsy knot,’ a similar detail on a woman is described as a ‘major fashion faux pas.’ That man just isn’t very good with clothing, but the woman should have known better.

Men also wear pantsuits

In this case too, you see that the woman takes the blame. The lingerie company and the American press could have been addressed or even sued. But instead, it was hushed up, and Clinton had to change her wardrobe. Only to receive comments for twenty-seven years about wearing pantsuits. Ironically, because men in politics also wear pantsuits. No one says anything about that.

I am glad that we live in a time where people are more aware of how women are treated. At the time, the Brazilian government refused to comment on this. I don’t think you could get away with that nowadays. Moreover, so much could have been done. Brazil could have asked the lingerie brand to remove the photo. Additionally, the brand could have been fined. Not only because Clinton was used against her will for commercial purposes, but also because it harmed her as a public figure.

By addressing and fining a company, you send a signal. You clearly show that you do not accept this behavior. You don’t use a First Lady in a country where she is a guest for a lingerie campaign. And you certainly don’t photograph her from below. That is not only intimidating and inappropriate for a First Lady but for every woman.

Best regards,


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