But in a West Wing vocally obsessed by image and appearance, the mien is the message. Or something like that. Recall President Trump’s lauding of his generals as straight out of “central casting”; his reported early scolding of Mr. Spicer for his rumpled appearance; the rumor that he had declared that the women on his staff should “dress like women”; the fact that one of the first things he said to Brigitte Macron during his Bastille Day visit was: “You’re in such good shape. She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.”
This is true especially in a visual age, and for an administration schooled in the crucible of reality television, where what you wear and how you look play a leading role. Especially when Ms. Sanders is only the third woman to ever hold the post of press secretary and, as she often mentions in her briefings, the first mother. Especially when she is charged with representing an administration in which the attitude toward gender has been, let us say, a somewhat contentious and much discussed issue.
.. Dana Perino, President George W. Bush’s last press secretary and now a Fox host, once told Elle magazine: “When I got the job as the press secretary, one of my first thoughts was, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to wear?’ People really focus on that.” Externally and, apparently, internally.
.. That may not seem like a big thing, but abandoning the jacket, even in 2017, is a striking choice on a professional podium, one that aligns Ms. Sanders more with the sartorial camp of Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway than with her predecessors: Dee Dee Myers, a press secretary during the Clinton administration who was known for her miniskirts and bright jackets, and Ms. Perino, who tended toward Chanel-esque suiting
.. The net effect is femininity that hasn’t been stiletto-weaponized or armored up as much as turned into an access point: No matter her words, they are framed by a style steeped in cheerful Hallmark history. That is bound to inform how they are received. If much of the administration still channels Wall Street (the Oliver Stone version), Ms. Sanders offers visual reference points of Main Street (the Fox version).