A political commentator has likened Phil Goff's new casual look to that adopted by National's Bill English in 2002 when the then National leader stood on the brink of political oblivion.

At Labour's weekend election-year congress Mr Goff sported a more casual look than usual - a suit with a white shirt and no tie.

He was similarly dressed in the publicity photos, standing smiling in a black suit with his top buttons undone and his hands nonchalantly in his pockets.

He tried the new look on for size last October in an apparent bid to appear casual, relaxed and approachable.

Massey University political communications commentator Associate Professor Claire Robinson said it was a very similar look to Mr English's promotional material in 2002, the year he led National to an election drubbing.

He was pictured with a tie but no suit jacket, and adopting a similar hand-in-the-pocket look.

Professor Robinson said the look made Mr English appear too young to be a prime minister.

"Mr Goff is not going to be seen as too youthful, but he's trying to appear relaxed. It's trying to humanise him, but when you see the pictures of him and Bill in the same pose, you get the impression they're trying too hard to present themselves as something they aren't."

She said it could be an attempt to counter the more formal look of Prime Minister John Key who always wears ties but has been criticised for seeming too casual and informal.

Mr Key's ties got some attention at a Grey Power meeting last weekend when Hutt Grey Power presented him with two knitted cosies sporting pink ties with his initials on them.

The gift was a Hutt Grey Power- style protest at Mr Key's pink tie, which president Sandra Greig said he had "stupidly" worn when she first met him two years before.

The gift, she said, "is our idea of fun".