HomeLife StyleThe Strategic Fashioning of Casey DeSantis

The Strategic Fashioning of Casey DeSantis

She has the bouncing, glowing Breck locks of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” (the 1991 animated version) and Catherine, Princess of Wales mixed up with the full-skirted pastel wardrobe of a well-mannered debutante, some fleece and a cape or two. She’s “dressing to be either princess of the world or first lady,” said Tom Broecker, the costume designer for “Saturday Night Live” and “House of Cards,” who has made something of an art of studying and replicating the style of first ladies. “There’s so much intentionality and purpose behind everything.”

To acknowledge that is not to undercut her substance — the work she has done for mental health, cancer research, hurricane relief — but to credit her with understanding a basic truth of modern campaigning. “Presidential campaigns are M.R.I.s for the soul,” said David M. Axelrod, the founder of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and a former senior adviser to Barack Obama. “Folks are not just evaluating your positions, they are evaluating you as a person.” To that end, he said, “spouses play a really important role in filling out that picture.”

Picture, in this case, being the operative word.

Though Ms. DeSantis has always been a considered dresser, a lesson from her days as a local anchor with WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla., when she and Mr. DeSantis met, she has ratcheted up her style over the past year. On election night in 2022, she wore a floor-length gold and yellow one-shoulder ruched gown that made her look as if she were on her way to a state dinner, rather than simply taking the stage in the Tampa Convention Center.

It was her outfit on inauguration day in January, however, that really foreshadowed the couple’s ambitions in the public eye: a mint-green dress by Alex Perry, an Australian label, with a built-in cape flowing from the shoulders, worn with white gloves. In its color and line, it seemed to draw its lineage straight from the Kennedy era. This was only compounded by the bright pink dress Ms. DeSantis wore to her husband’s State of the State address, with a portrait neckline and more white gloves, another seeming nod to Jacqueline Kennedy, one of the most recognizable, revered and stylish first ladies in American history. Ditto the ice-blue dress she wore to accompany Mr. DeSantis to Japan, another caped style, this time with floral epaulets at the shoulders.

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