What Not To Wear To The Democratic Convention

09/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Karin Tanabe Simon & Schuster author of "The List" and "The Price of Inheritance" (August 2014)

It's about that time again. Political fashion week is kicking off in Colorado on Monday with the Democratic Party's super models strutting in their red, white and blue. The theme I'm expecting from this year's event is "quiet patriotism." My fingers are crossed that no one decides to show a Western collection in an ill-placed nod to the Colorado locale. Mr. Obama; I know you're courting Southern Virginia and other boot-loving haunts but please stick to shoes with laces and the glacial blue ties from 2004. The only place cowboy attire truly works is on the pages of a Studs 'N Spurs wall calendar.

In the predictable world of political fashion, America has placed their bets on Michelle Obama donning yet another jewel toned sheath dress. Perhaps she should move away from clothing dyed the exact same color as a David Yurman gemstone and bring back the patterned halter dress from the NAACP Image Awards or the three quarter length sleeve she was so fond of in '07.

For Hillary Clinton, I think it's time we usher in a new era. Adieu to the buttery yellow pantsuit and marble sized pearls from the Boston Convention. You battled with bravery. You cried on TV. Head-to-toe pastel is not going to convey your reignited joie de vivre. Show them you've been to the mountain, dare to wear a jacket and pants that are not the same color.

Even if your name will never appear on a Presidential ballot, you may still want to adhere to the season's "quiet patriotism" trend that we've seen on every political runway from Dubuque to Denver since 1789. This does not mean that you should look poised and ready to man a lemonade stand on the Fourth of July. Protect yourself from the cool mountain air with a jaunty red sweater knit by your grandmother in her log cabin with organic wool rather than morphing into a walking Declaration of Independence.

Plan to engage in sport while out West? Please don't do a Kerry and wear swim trunks with the gardens of Versailles emblazoned on your backside. "You can never be too rich or too thin," may be the mantra at Bryant Park but at the convention it's as indecipherable as Esperanto.

If you are actively looking to sacrifice your career through a newsworthy romp, then you should channel the'80s with an oversized blazer, maybe an earring and tousled bed hair that falls past the nape of your neck. It seemed to work for Rob Lowe at the 1988 convention in Atlanta. Just make sure the other members in your ménage à trois are legal.

And no matter how much all-American whiskey you swirl down, throwing caution and tiny American flag drink accouterments to the wind, don't become the elephant in the room by wearing a McCain T-shirt. It's the biggest fashion faux pas this season.