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The Fashion Whip: 2011's Best Dressed Politicians (It's Not Who You Think!)

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Fashion Whip is a political style column in The Huffington Post by Lauren Rothman and Christina Wilkie. Rothman is the founder of Styleauteur.

WASHINGTON -- What does it take to land on The Fashion Whip's list of the best dressed people in American politics?

Simply put, it's power dressing -- the kind that moves crowds and makes voters and congressional colleagues take a second look. This is a list of politicians who cultivate their power through their public image -- and this being politics, it's always deliberate.

Power dressing in politics is not just about what (or who) you are wearing -- it is also about how you communicate your message. Body language, charisma and the ability to carry oneself well factor heavily into the overall look. You have to own it. This list of politicians includes heavyweights with decades of experience in the public eye, as well as a healthy dose of newcomers -- all of whom have the political clout to move (and sway) people.

In a place where many of the most powerful roles are occupied by men, freshman Rep. Frederica Wilson's (D-Fla.) matching cowboy hat and suit ensembles (Wilson reportedly has a room where she keeps more than 80 hats!), and the sharp panache of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) exemplify the unique way these women occupy their own political stage. Among the 'gents, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are high-budget veterans, and the standard they set influences relative newcomers like Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who have an impressive collection of designer suits between them.

Click through the slideshow for the trademarks and tactics that shaped and maintained Washington's reputation for power dressing this year.

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