It's a proven fact that sports teams with red uniforms win more games. If the local political arena plays by the same rules, Carolyn Goodman could have a significant "w" in her future.
The mayoral candidate who hopes to take over where her husband Mayor Oscar Goodman leaves off, rarely wears another color. She sports red for TV interviews, campaign billboards, public appearances and debates with her opponent Chris Giunchigliani.
If it was any other woman, it would simply be seen as a preference. The fact her name currently appears on ballots makes it a message. Everything a candidate does, says and, yes, wears, tells voters something. So, what's Carolyn Goodman saying without saying it?
"That she knows exactly what she wants. She wants you to know she's very well-thought in what she wears and other areas," says Jack Brown, a local, nonverbal communication expert. "(Goodman) looks like she shops at Neiman Marcus, where Chris G. looks more Macy's."
That's not a jab at Giunchigliani, either. According to Brown, the Clark County commissioner doesn't need to say a lot with her clothes because she already takes care of that with her words and her body language.
Giunchigliani's business look reflects professionalism while her tendency toward blue -- the preferred color for letters of recommendation -- demonstrates honesty. In her early political days, Giunchigliani wore boxy suits and long hair. With each rung she climbs, her suits get more tailored and her hair more coiffed. It also isn't unusual to see her in skirts, where her opponent stays as committed to pants as she does the color red.
"She's younger," says Brown of the 57-year-old, who is 19 years Goodman's junior. "She could be showing she has youth and energy."
A stretch? Brown compares it with John F. Kennedy throwing a football while on the presidential campaign trail and to Barack Obama baring a cut upper body on the beach during his run for president. Both were in better physical shape than their opponents. And both, according to Brown, knew exactly what they were doing.
As long as it's not too high above the knee, showing a little leg shouldn't hurt a female candidate. But, it wouldn't take much creativity to come up with something that could. The difference between the way female and male political candidates are judged on their appearance is easy for David Damore to break down.
"Females are judged. That's the difference," says the University of Nevada, Las Vegas associate professor of political science.
He points to Sarah Palin as an example. Her big hair and heavy makeup made it hard for the public to take the one-time republican vice presidential candidate seriously. On the other hand, Condoleezza Rice was criticized for keeping her look too conservative while she served as secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration. When she wore black knee-high leather boots, her critics scolded her for sexing things up.
Two years ago, supermodel Heidi Klum told a reporter that "most women in politics look like men." Considering their male counterparts are immune to such wardrobe scrutiny, it's no wonder why.
It seems there's a balance the public wants to see its female candidates accomplish and it takes a small miracle to pull it off. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., minority leader for the House of Representatives, often gets accolades for perfectly walking that fine line. She leans toward high-end suits with immaculate tailoring, but will toss in a string of pearls for style points.
Damore cites Jan Jones, former Las Vegas mayor and current Harrah's executive, as our local example of getting it right.
"She's feminine," he says, "but still has that business look."
The double standard doesn't apply to just appearances, either. The way Damore sees it, if former U.S. representative Dina Titus were named Dino Titus, her thick Southern accent would hardly get noticed.
Sometimes female candidates don't get considered at all. During mayoral primaries Giunchigliani recalls the stage setup making it difficult for candidates in skirts. "There were several women sitting on these stools, high above audiences," she says. "It was not comfortable."
She notes that her look has changed over the years due to both function and constructive criticism. The long hair got shorter because she got older, but the jewelry got smaller because she got some good advice.
After an important meeting several years back, a male colleague pulled Giunchigliani aside to tell her she shouldn't wear dangly earrings. The expressive politician is known to use her hands and head to punctuate her thoughts. The man had a hard time listening to her because the swing of her earrings was too much of a distraction.
It brings to mind someone Giunchigliani knows today. "In a professional role, I've noticed a change in who wears what wedding rings," she says. "Maybe someone was told (a big diamond) doesn't go over well with the common folk."
Goodman would be shocked if she was referring to her. "That's not me. I'm not a flashy person," she says.
Sure, she might have some St. John suits, nice jewelry and long acrylic nails, but she finds her makeup in the beauty aisle at Smith's Food and Drug and her general look hasn't changed much since college. Those scarves she drapes around her neck are just a stylish way for Goodman to stave off overbearing AC systems.
And the red? She wore it for a TV appearance one day and got nothing but rave reviews. The people loved it.
"My personal preference is actually camel and black," she says. But, like any politician -- male or female -- she gives the people what they want.