Speak Softly and Wear High Boots

The Post’s fashionista Robin Givhan gets commanding play for her latest venture into West Wing reporting: An examination of Condi Rice’s style in her overseas tour as secretary of state. (Robin, you might remember, wrote the now infamous article questioning Dick Cheney’s sartorial choice at last month’s Auschwitz remembrance.)

The Post’s giant front page photo of Condi yesterday
garnered some attention—especially coming as it did the morning after Bravo’s Project Runway finale. Condi looked more a creation of Wendy Pepper (although perhaps with Kara Saun’s ill-gotten shoes) than she did America’s top diplomat.

Writing phrases that never passed a reporter’s fingertips during the sex-charged reign of Colin Powell, Robin explains:

As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.


Rice’s coat and boots speak of sex and power—such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.

Frankly, we can’t wait until sexiest-man-alive Donald Rumsfeld gets the Givhan treatment. For now, we’ll content ourselves with the mental picture of him in a green parka and stilettos…