Hillary Clinton's White After Labor Day, Vol. 15, Issue 53

Dear Etiquetteer,

In light of recent posts from you, I have meant to ask: What did you think of Secretary Clinton wearing all white, after Labor Day, to the final presidential debate?

Dear True Colors:

You are not the first reader to twit Etiquetteer on this apparent violation of Tradition and Perfect Propriety, but Etiquetteer is ready for you.

A wardrobe for a place on the stage - whether that of the theatre or that of the world - is subject to different requirements from Everyday Perfect Propriety. The situation in which Secretary Clinton finds herself is not Everyday Perfect Propriety. It’s Political Theatre. White is one of the three patriotic colors of our Great Nation, and it is also the color that most reflects back light. Since women always have more sartorial freedom than men, Etiquetteer considers it shrewd for Secretary Clinton to have appeared in that crisply - one might say severely - tailored all-white suit, because it helped her image fill the screen and draw more attention. No male candidate could have done that without lookling like either Sidney Greenstreet, Burl Ives, or a summer stock refugee from a musical chorus. And yet it did not dominate the impression she made that night, as obviously people have been talking about much more than her pantsuit since then.

Now Etiquetteer could only wish that Secretary Clinton had worn One Important Jewel with that suit, very much like Dagny Taggart in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, or - a reference beloved to devotées of camp cinema - Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.  But the two risks of of One Important Jewel in Politics - first, that it would be seen as elitist, and second that its sparkle might deflect from one’s words - would outweigh Etiquetteer’s wish. Perhaps, if she is inaugurated, Secretary Clinton will wear One Important Jewel in her ensemble. Or, if her husband is inaugurated, Melania Trump will wear an astrakhan hat with a diamond aigrette.