Jez Corbyn- Do We Care What He Wears?

The shorts and socks. The slightly crumpled, not-quite-white shirts. Those his-n-hers grey shell suits (which, incidentally, I loved). I mean Jez, you’re great, but sometimes beige is not ok.

As much as the media focus, of late, has been on Jeremy Corbyn’s policies (or lack thereof), there has also been a blast of attention from the press, both left and right, vis-à-vis the new Labour leader’s wardrobe.

Barbed comments about his holey jumpers, questionable shades of oatmeal and shiny suits seem to fly from all angles. In 1984, Conservative MP Terry Dicks took offence at Corbyn’s home-made jumper. Knitted by his mother, it was, as Corbyn explained, “very comfortable and perfect for this kind of weather”. Excellent, and really all one would want a jumper to be. Last week, the Daily Mail, in an alarming display of sartorial insight, published an entire article on his £1.50 vests. And even Labour MP Simon Danczuk condemned his own leader as “too untidy, too scruffy” for the tastes of many voters. I suspect that Corbyn doesn’t give a toss. And yet, the comments clearly haven’t fallen on deaf ears.

The party leader certainly hasn’t ditched the beige – but he’s discovered an iron. He’s taken the cheap (but handy) biros out of his top pocket, donned a (rather nice-looking) jacket and trimmed his beard.  We can’t deny that the attention on his sartorial choices has been unusually plentiful for a male politician, but did we really want Jez to shake off his grandpa style? I know I didn’t. 

Theresa May’s boots – yes, awful, but so what? I bet they kept her legs warm. In a recent Vogue interview, Nicola Sturgeon was described as ‘awkward’ when questioned about her stylistic decisions- almost as if the fashion bible had expected her to leap at the opportunity to discuss her wardrobe. She’s busy. She doesn’t care. Of course, careful stylists have sculpted Corbyn and Sturgeon’s gradual transitions to more mainstream politician wear, and probably without much input from the leaders themselves- Sturgeon, for instance, “actually prefers blacks and greys”, but “(retina-melting colours) are better for television.”

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For most, the socks-and-sandals approach, the Dad-esque if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it wardrobe was as much a well needed blast of fresh air as Corbyn’s politics, setting him sharply in contrast against the expensive uniform of tailored Tory suits. It was a reflection of Corbyn’s straight-talking politics, away from the well-oiled Westminster machine. It’s naïve to expect the press to ignore a rogue fashion choice when it comes to our politicians, but it’s brilliant when those decisions are as rogue as the figure they dress.

Admittedly, Corbyn hasn’t changed much. He’s just a little tidier, a little more together. Maybe he gets his jumpers from M&S now. But Jeremy, I take it back. Although you probably couldn’t care less what I think anyway, the fawn shades are really rather comforting. Have a fashion exemption- beige is ok.