Bachmann was the rare politician who openly discussed her clothing and self-presentation. She discussed shopping bargains, once gave an interview from a dressing room at Macy's, and wrote in her memoir about taking styling tips from George W. Bush. ("Lose the gloves," he reportedly advised on a ladylike ensemble she wore to a campaign event.) When she first won her congressional seat in 2006, she vowed to "hit the ground running, even in high heels"; suffering migraines on the presidential trail in 2011, she reportedly blamed the shoes. (Her doctor son noted a "correlation" between his mother's footwear and headaches.) Her campaign finance filings revealed a $4,700 presidential candidate makeover. Her acrylic French tips have been theorized to be the source of her strength. We now present a complete guide to the style evolution of Michele Bachmann as a national politician.
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November 2006: Wins Seat in U.S. Congress
To celebrate her jump from state to national politics, Bachmann wore a pearl choker and drop earrings, upswept hair, and a dress she described as "a black, crepey-chiffony kind of cocktail dress" in a Star Tribune interview where she described her style inspirations as Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. Note that she is wearing neither false lashes nor acrylic nails.
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April 2010: First Appearance with Sarah Palin
Fellow small-town right-wing northerner Sarah Palin also appreciates pearls, updos, and black clothing. During Palin's vice-presidential run, Bachmann and Palin bore frequent comparison. For their first joint appearance at a Minneapolis rally, Palin borrowed Bachmann's 2006 election look. Though Bachmann's garments appears simple in this picture, note that she is wearing a flowing, flowered skirt below the frame.
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Autumn 2010: Tea Party Stardom
As Bachmann gains momentum as a tea-party star, she continues to enjoy blinged-up clothing, but her makeup and fingernails remain understated. "I dress fairly simply," Bachmann once said. "I like clean lines. I like solid colors. But I like an outfit to have a little kick."
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March 2011: French Tip Debut
In early 2011, Bachmann's style begins to shift. She wears a squared-off French-tip acrylic manicure, which she will keep for the duration of her presidential campaign. For a woman who once bragged about buying skirt suits for $39, the brocade suit Bachmann wears here, for a briefing on U.S. military action in Libya, is rather luxe.
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June 2011: Announces Presidential Candidacy
Bachmann's French tips were in full force when she announced her presidential candidacy in Waterloo, Iowa, the hometown of her youth. (And source of at least one awkward gaffe.) She is photographed here with husband Marcus, who, she told the Star Tribune, does much of her shopping: "Before Vice President Dick Cheney's visit this past summer, Bachmann's husband, Marcus, hit the stores—'he's got a good sense of style'—and came home with 'a sleek, simple hourglass dress with a yoke collar in winter white.' He even bought a matching coat and shoes." Marcus also shopped for doggie sunglasses during Michele's campaign. Don't worry, Marcus knows what you're thinking about him, but seems to have a sense of humor about it. He maintains that his faith-based therapy clinic does not push gay conversion therapy.
Bachmann's squared-off French tips were ablaze at a campaign event in South Carolina. This appears to be the same pale pink dress she described in her memoir, in a scene where President Bush gives her style advice. Fox News summarizes: "Hewing to her mother's advice to appear 'ladylike' in public, Bachmann had donned a pink suit and pink gloves. At one point along their campaign route, the 43rd president asked Bachmann, 'with a crinkly smile,' why she was wearing gloves. After she explained, Bush said gently: 'Lose the gloves.'"
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September 2011: GOP Presidential Debate
Some would argue that Bachmann's white military-inspired (or perhaps cruise-ship-inspired) jacket was her all-time best theme look ...
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November 2011: Veterans' Day Parade
... I, however, would argue that her all-time best theme look must include the American flag neckerchief she wore to a Veterans' Day parade in South Carolina during her presidential campaign.
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January 2011: Campaign Crumbling
The week before she dropped out of the GOP presidential candidate runnings, Bachmann dropped her signature French tips. Pictured at right showing off phone contacts while discussing where her campaign would get funds next, Bachmann also displays a rounded metallic manicure. The effect is more subdued than the manicure she wore at her peak.
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January 2011: Resigns from Presidential Race
After a sixth-place finish at the Iowa caucus, Bachmann resigned from the GOP presidential race wearing her most mondo eyelashes yet. Her French tips, however, are gone.
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January 2011: Eyelash Comparison
Bachmann is a woman of many eyelashes. At left, a thin pair she wore for an official portrait. At right, the thicker set she preferred for public appearances.
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Today: Playful Style, No Manicure
And so we arrive at Bachmann's return to Congress, where she continues to favor dramatic eye makeup but rarely paints her nails. For her video announcement that she would not seek reelection, Bachmann wore a satin suit with pearls. Though MicheleBachmann.com, the site where she posted the video, features a photograph of Bachmann wearing acrylic nails, the last time she was photographed, she was not wearing them.