The rebranding of Mrs Gingrich: How Callista transformed her look from young professional to aspiring First LadyShe may be just 45, but with her penchant for boxy suits, pearls and that gleaming helmet of peroxide, Newt”s wife is dressing way beyond her years.
At just 45, Callista Gingrich is the youngest of the Republican presidential candidates” spouses. And over the past five weeks, she has quickly become the most prominent.
But while many other women might be making efforts to look younger as they step into the media spotlight, the third wife of Newt Gingrich, who has recently emerged as a frontrunner, appears to be determined to do the opposite.
Instead, she seems to have become stuck in a style rut more befitting of a woman much older.
Fashion formula: Newt Gingrich”s wife Callista may be just 45, but as her husband emerges as a frontrunner in the Republican presidential candidate race, she seems to have become stuck in a somewhat older style rut
Her efforts to look ever more polished for appearances alongside her husband, 68, have found her reliant on a fashion formula that consists of boxy power suits, a triple-stand pearl necklace and sensible courts.
Her make-up is more dated still. Garish pinky-purple blush adds little warmth to her naturally pale skin, nor indeed do her lipsticks, always in a blue-ish shade of red, rather than more flattering orangey hues.
But most distinctive is of course her gleaming helmet ofwhite-blonde hair – the subject of much media fascination, it is believed to take up to 90 minutes to coiff into shape, and even has its own Facebook page (albeit with only 13 “likes”).
Mrs Gingrich is clearly trying hard to look appropriate, attractive and elegant for these formal occasions. But if her husband does end up running against Barack Obama, she will prove little competition for Michelle Obama in the wives” fashion-off.
Polished… but dated: Boxy blazers and a helmet of peroxide hair have become mainstays of Mrs Gingrich”s look
While Mrs Obama has had many thousands of newspaper and magazine column inches dedicated to her every outfit, and even blogs tracking the labels she wears, Mrs Gingrich sticks to nondescript tailored separates.
One would be unlikely to find her causing a style scandal with an Alexander McQueen gown, for instance, or putting an unknown name like Jason Wu onto the fashion map.
Mrs G”s outfits inspire little debate. And perhaps this is her intention – but the effort she is clearly making with her appearance (what on earth would one do to their hair for 90 minutes each day) implies otherwise.
Newsweek”s fashion critic, Robin Givhan likens Mrs Gingrich to the women of the Fifties and Sixties and considers these style choices an effort to exude wealth and control, rather than the relatability her peers might aspire to.
Transformation: In 2006 (left) and 2007 (right), Mrs Gingrich”s look was softer – her suits had a less severe shape and her hair, with its slight waves, looked at least like it might move in a gust of wind
Ann Taylor chic: When Callista Bisek first stepped onto the political scene, her look was less contrived. Her suits were less boxy, and her hair even showed a trace of dark roots
“Mrs Gingrich”s grooming is distractingly impeccable,” she writes. “In an era of relaxed dress codes and wash-and-go hair, her style is painstakingly starched from head to toe. If she were to slouch, she just might crack.”
The look is at odds, Ms Givhan points out, with how she styled herself a decade ago. When Callista Bisek first stepped onto the political scene (amid scandalous circumstances – she had a seven-year affair with Mr Gingrich while he was still married), her look was somewhat softer.
Thoughher taste for pearls and skirt suits was already well-established in 2000, her hair looked less like a plastic Lego construct.
There were the occasional dark roots,but they served to make her look slightly more, well, normal. The waves, which she had at one stage, added dimension, and, unlike her current do, looked like it actually might move if it were caught in a gust of wind.
Political style statement: While all ears will be on what Newt Gingrich has to say at the next GOP debate in Iowa tomorrow, his wife seems all too aware that all eyes will be on her
Now, as she emerges from the shadows as the driving force behind her husband”s political ambitions, she looks set to up the ante with her look in the coming weeks.
Indeed, while all ears will be on what her husband has to say at the next GOP debate in Iowatomorrow, she seems all too aware that all eyes will be on her.
But while the image she will present may be flawless, perhaps she should heed Ms Givhan”s advice on the unspoken rules of political style:
“Do not tempt audiences into pondering how much mirror time one requires…” she warns. “The goal is to display wealth and status as if by accident rather than intent, to suggest that formality is a barrier to be breached.”