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NI Assembly election: Did political leaders' fashion sense get your vote?

By Lindy McDowell

It's the final photo call of the election campaign. The debates, the hustings, the doorstepping, the mudslinging, that's all over. The die has been cast.

If not quite all the votes...

And yesterday it was time for our political leaders and personalities to step up to the box themselves and do their democratic business in style. Accompanied, outside their respective polling stations, by the traditional phalanx of cameras.

The smiles were determinedly in place. At this point, if they were feeling nerves, nobody was going to get a glimpse.

So as they turned out, presumably to cast their own vote for themselves, it was interesting to note the sartorial first preference choice.

Arlene Foster

The DUP leader opted for what could only be described as a great coat. And it was a great coat. In this weather you can't beat something woolly and warm and long and weatherproof. The coat was black matching her trousers. And her black leather gloves. It was a look that said 'authoritative'. Lightened only by the peek of a blue blouse at the neckline and a really lovely sparkly brooch which, you wonder, might have some sentimental significance, this was Arlene seemingly signalling: "I'm in charge." Or maybe just: "It's cold out there. I'm taking no chances."

MIchelle O’Neill

The always-glamorous Michelle opted for a vibrant shade of red. As she almost always does. Red suits her. She knows it. In that sense, Sinn Fein's northern leader is not green. The coat, trimmed with a stripe of black, was like Arlene's - a wise, cold weather choice. A warm appeal to the voters? And again she chose sensible black trousers, although in her case accessorised with a pair of racy, stiletto boots with towering heels. Maybe a message there about heading for highest office? Among those accompanying her was her first-time voter son Ryan. He looked proud. First vote for your ma!

Naomi Long

Naomi doesn't need colour to stand out in the crowd. The Alliance leader has got that fabulous red hair. And casting her vote yesterday, she chose a comfy cardigan, not a coat. Obviously the weather isn't quite so chilly in East Belfast. As with Arlene and Michelle, no party political symbolism in colour choice here either. Naomi voted for a dazzling shade of turquoise which in fashion terms could be described as independent. Again paired with black trousers which is the closest we've seen in some time to cross-party consensus.

Mike Nesbitt

Mike chose a suit of near-enough sky blue. Which given the current weather would suggest a certain optimistic outlook. The tie was a neutral grey. Red (with the white shirt) may have seemed a bit too... well, Proddy. The suit was conservative. But a sharp cut. The UUP leader was accompanied by his son - another good looking young voter - and wife Lynda Bryans. Lynda, again, is a lady who always looks glamorous. And again, dressed for the cold, she had a long, black puffa jacket with a logo on the breast. A vote there for Ulster Rugby?

Colum Eastwood

Colum arrived at the polls (the third party leader, interestingly, to cast his vote west of the Bann) in a sharp suit that would not look out of place in the office. But the election message was fairly first preference in the tie which was in a strong shade of nationalist green. The SDLP leader's most gorgeous "accessory", however, was his little daughter Rosa. A politician hugging a beautiful little baby? You really can't beat that look, can you?

Eamonn McCann

The People Before Profit leader looked coolest on a cold day in his traditional choice of all black. It always works. Mr McCann looked a bit like an ageing 60s Parisian revolutionary. Although, to be honest, still slightly more Stormont than Sorbonne...

Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim, who has hitherto been as close as we've got to an opposition at Stormont, cast his vote alongside his wife, Ruth. He faced the North Antrim weather in a man-of-the-people style classic coat with a flouncy, flamboyant red, white and blue rosette pinned to the lapel. Ruth, who is obviously the more stylish of the McAllister pair, had chosen a lovely deep blue scarf to keep out the winter chill. Meanwhile, an Irish language activist showed up in a crocodile outfit... maybe the most appropriate outfit of all for this snap election.

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