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Budget Day neckties... just what do they mean?

What are the unspoken messages given out by a minister’s tie? Fashion expert Alanna Gallagher reveals all…

Image: Fernando de Sousa via Creative Commons/Flickr

POLITICS IS A serious business, and for the (male) politician attempting to bolster support or assuage public fears there is one area that should never be overlooked: the necktie.

As our ministers confront the country with this year’s Budget, we take a look at the unspoken messages emitted by their choice in tie and colour…

Alanna Gallagher, editor of style website The Weekly Edit, says tie colour choice is crucial for public leaders when delivering important news – both in Ireland and abroad.

For example, she says, when announcing Britain’s Budget last year, Chancellor George Osborne wore purple, Gallagher noted. “It’s a slightly unusual choice – but it symbolises regality and formality”.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy wears “very dark, almost black ties and favours deep plain colours” she said. “He wears deep, French navy – which is very sharp on a man of his stature”.

Generally, Irish politicians excel at wearing mid-colours: “Last year, Lenihan and Noonan wore very similar ties, which was interesting. They chose a sort of silver-striped, woven tie.” This is the archetypal business tie, she pointed out – unobtrusive and inoffensive.  “My money is on something very classic for the Budget announcement – something  blue or perhaps silver.”

Louise Smith of Dulux said that blue represented honesty clarity – and  shows a person is forthright.

“It would also be flying the Fine Gael blue,” Gallagher said.

Although she would like to see ministers wear green - as it is associated with money, rebirth, regrowth – Gallagher believed it could appear “a bit stylised” because of  connotations of Saint Patrick’s day and stereotypical Irishness.

It was unlikely they would choose brown, she said, a colour not seen in such situations since the 1980s. If they did, however, it would reflect their ‘down to earth’ qualities.

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Yellow doesn’t really figure with Irish politicians,” she said, “And, anyway, it symbolises cowardice”.

So what’s the least likely colour we’ll see our representatives wearing?

“My money’s not on red. Although red symbolises power, wealth, strength and passion, it also has connotations of red-letter days. And the irony is, of course, that we’re so in the red – that the media would have a field day,” she laughs.

“I’d love to see someone do it like Lucinda Creighton – there’s no male equivalent… she has a really lovely way of dressing and keeping on trend. She’s not afraid to be female while is still taken seriously,” Gallagher added.

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