Fashion is about self-expression, individuality, it is a way of communicating with the world around you.

So just what was John Key telling the world when he dressed in an oversized pink (or was that mauve, maybe lilac) polo shirt and sneans (sneakers and jeans) and headed out for breakfast at his local cafe the morning after being voted back in as Prime Minister?

Was it that he'd had little or no sleep and grabbed the first thing out of the cupboard? That he's his own man and if he wants to wear pastels he will? And, if the mood takes him, he'll nonchalantly throw a cobalt sweater over his shoulders for an added accent of colour? That he dresses for comfort and be damned if sneans are frowned upon by the style cognoscenti, they're comfortable and that's what counts?

Perhaps it's the complete opposite and he's tapping into Normcore - the avant bland style coined by trend forecasters in Europe to describe those self-consciously dressing in mass-made suburban clothing.


But really, Mr Key? Instead of wearing Lacoste and Nike, wouldn't wearing NZ-made have been much cooler? What a great message that would have been to the world. Or maybe he doesn't need to try any more. He's back for his third innings, it's time to kick back and relax.

But clothing is a persuasive communication tool, especially in a world where imagery and brand is all. Where were your advisers, John? Changing that pastel polo for a blue business shirt, (and keeping the sneans), for a meeting later didn't help. It reeked of Obama - and we all know fashion isn't his forte.

Benny Castles, menswear designer for the label World, believes that although Kiwis are casual when it comes to dressing, a PM or a member of Parliament should never be seen without a suit and tie.

"I don't think I ever want to see a politician in anything but a suit. I'd like to see Mr Key in a suit at the beach, on a treadmill and especially at New World on Sunday morning amongst the veges. We are trusting him with every single tax dollar, do you really want to see him in a pair of cargo shorts and a muscle T?"

Or this season's wardrobe must for men, a cotton deconstructed blazer in navy, would have been perfect. It's smart casual and at its best when worn with a T-shirt and jeans, even with a pastel polo.

As Viva's menswear editor, Andrew Glenn, says, the "DB" is a winner thanks to its relaxed shape; it is the weekend's sartorial answer to the buttoned-up midweek suit.

Another option, says Castles, is the trench coat. "Think Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau or Gerald Ford whose trench coat was bullet-proof." Not unlike Mr Key himself, last weekend.