WASHINGTON - As political campaigning gradually shifts into higher gear, Congress was in recess this week and flip flops, muffin tops, stray straps, sheer dresses, and VPL's were in visible form. As the mercury rises, people forget how to stay stylish in the heat. And, while summers on Capitol Hill can feel hot and sticky, that is no excuse to forget your manners.
Interns may not know any better, but career staffers and elected officials certainly should. Nonverbal presentation, especially how you look and behave on the campaign trail, impact dramatically the impression you make. Mitt Romney manages to look hip and friendly jet skiing in New Hampshire, while Marco Rubio from sunny Miami is both a font of conservative political knowledge and of perspiration, profusely sweating on television while anxiously discussing his new book.
Even McDonald's is keeping their employees cool this summer. Their new uniforms, set to debut at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, are inspired by the series Mad Men and channel the ever stylish yet appropriate vibe of the 1960's.
Everyone needs to understand etiquette 101 for staying cool in the heat. Keep these three time-tested tips in mind as temperatures continue to rise inside the Rotunda and out on the campaign.
Carry a hankie: If you are prone to perspiring, you may be required to wipe sweat subtly from your brow or face. Using your free hand to wipe away such moisture is a faux pas, especially on television. Fashionable pocket squares are expensive and should not be confused with handkerchiefs - carry a hankie in the back pocket of your trousers and replace it with a fresh one daily.
Wear an undershirt: Another layer may not sound ideal when it's 100 degrees but an undershirt can actually help absorb underarm sweat (especially when paired with a deodorant /antiperspirant) and keep you cooler. Often triggered when a person is stressed or in an anxious state, damp circles do not bode well for executive presence. Light blue dress shirts are typically the most revealing in this regard, so stick to white in the summer to camouflage any stains.
Dress in weather appropriate fabrics: Choosing the right fabrics in humid and muggy conditions is crucial. Opt for breathable dress shirts in broadcloth cotton and for summer suits in tropical weight wool. Linen and seersucker may feel like stylish summer textiles but they don't look great on C-Span.
If you still find yourself sweating, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. It will be fall soon enough.
Fashion Whip is a political style column in the Huffington Post by Lauren A. Rothman, inspired by Lauren's experience as the founder of Styleauteur, a style and fashion consulting firm.
Follow Lauren A. Rothman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/styleauteur