The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author.
The conservative glitterati brought their a-game to this year’s CPAC in Washington, DC. Although the glamourous days of Jackie O and Nancy Reagan are long gone, this year’s event offered glimmers of hope that conservative men and women have not entirely given up. Some may question why style should matter in politics. We don’t make the rules, and if history tells us anything, voters scrutinize the outside just as much as the inside. That is merely the reality of the political arena. Liberal women have set a new low of unkempt hair, makeup, and unflattering wardrobes hand-picked from Wal-Mart’s clearance section. However, as conservatives, we should not abandon our standards because liberal men and women are getting harder and harder to differentiate.
I’m Chad Law, also known to most as, The Last Gay Conservative. As an award-winning podcaster, columnist, and speaker, I have always had to make the best of what God gave me, which ain’t pretty. However, my unfortunate looks and size aside, I have always valued having a unique, powerful sense of style. My style is the reason I am where I am. Before my career in conservative politics, I owned and sold three major businesses in the beauty industry. Fashion is my only other passion, second to conservative politics. I have been used as Inspiration by some of the world’s top labels, showcasing how larger guys can wear designer.
We are so excited to release the first of many CPAC fashion reviews following every event. You may be thinking, “what does fashion have to do with politics?” Well, as admirable as all those great qualities are inside, the outside counts just as much. You cannot be a powerful conservative man or woman looking frumpy. We all must embody a unique style that defines us, a look that knocks everyone off their feet when you enter a room. A look that will ensure constant wins at work, home, and/or school. Without your own style, you cannot win.
Three of my closest friends and I ranked men and women throughout the event in five categories: skin, makeup, hair, wardrobe, and overall style. Having worked in beauty and fashion for over 15 years, I focused on overall style. Dianne Degnan, a celebrity hairdresser whose clients span from Rob Lowe to Beyonce, judged hair. My dear friend Amine Boullamanne, one of Milan’s most respected stylists, who works for Christian Dior as the lead stylist for Italy’s elite, judged the wardrobe. Lastly, Liza Mackawilli, a veteran celebrity makeup artist for television and makeup director for Nordstrom and Smashbox studios, evaluated the skin and makeup. Our in-depth bios can be found in the official CPAC style review. Furthermore, we judged through a political lens, not against a Hollywood red carpet, but how the style would resonate with voters and political media.
We look at a range of things, particularly fit and tailoring, makeup blending and tone, wardrobe color choices, and hair color and extensions quality. Like I always say, just because you can wear red, white, and blue doesn’t mean you should. This year’s CPAC was a mixed bag with many pleasant surprises. Of course, there was a lot of the same, but narrowing down the worst was not easy overall. Here is a sampling of our 2023 CPAC results. More details and exact scoring are in our official CPAC style review.
This year’s 2023 CPAC best of the best goes to Winsome Sears!
The lieutenant governor of Virginia sure stood out, and we were enamored by her overall presence, strength, and talking points. Winsome was the epitome of a near-perfect outside to match her incredible inside.
Winsome Sears hit the CPAC stage in a perfectly fitted, soft white suit. A very modern cut complimented by oversized jewelry and silver earrings. Her chunky necklace got her serious points. Her makeup is flawless, with the perfect hint of color on the lips. We would have never guessed a top knot would look so elegant, but she pulls it off.
Black hair is not always easy to keep tame on a hot, sweaty stage, and her hair looked natural but just done enough to look elegant. It seems she has no color in her hair, which can age women quickly, but on Winsome, it was pure class. Her one and only miss was the blouse underneath; she had the right idea, but something a little more glamorous in a lighter fabric would have completed the look perfectly.
Nonetheless, she was the best overall at this year’s event.
This year’s runner-up for best of the best goes to Kari Lake
It’s not easy to be a powerhouse in personality and style. Typically, women with fiery personalities and a strong presence, being the center of any room, focus less on their style and depend more on their ability to command a crowd. Kari Lake is the total package. She can command a runway just as much as a room of voters. Every part of Kari’s look is bold and risky and admittedly would work on very few women, but she killed it.
We’d never think leather pants with a green blouse were a good choice for CPAC, but it worked. Boy, did it work. Double points for not wearing red, white, or blue, and triple points for the touch of Gucci around the waist. Her skin, hair, and makeup looked great, with a dewy glow and blending that only an experienced makeup artist could accomplish. Short hair on the wrong woman can quickly put them in the “I play softball and shop at Home Depot” category. Yet again, on Kari, it’s near perfection. Her hair color goes perfectly with her skin color.
However, her lackluster lip color and earrings did not work and seemed to be last-minute mistakes, which kept her from receiving the top spot. What we love most about Kari is that her style matches her roots. She embodies the Scottsdale and West Coast style, which is more fun than what you see with some East Coast contenders. Some may argue that her style was either too casual or not everyone’s cup of tea. However, Kari’s style is unequivocally hers, and she got major points for having a strong sense of personal style.
This year’s worst of the worst goes to Elise Stefanik
Awarding the worst is always a tough choice, but unfortunately, Elise stood out like a sore thumb this year. Elise- for God’s sake, pay a stylist. If it’s not goofy sleeves or wrong colors, it’s this tacky ten-times-over suit. Not only does the suit not fit, but it also does not work with her figure, which is close to perfect. Her great body shape should be framed, not restricted.
The suit looks like a hypnotic pattern on the calm app that claims to cure insomnia. Additionally, to only have a nude camisole as a blouse underneath is dumbfounding and trashy. Who takes a neon houndstooth suit (if that’s what it is) off the rack? How could someone’s eye ever be drawn to that suit? More importantly, how comes no one who loves her tells her? Amine, our in-house stylist, said, “Ray Charles picks out better clothes.”
Her foundation does not match her skin, and her cheeks have too much bronzer. Her hair Is OK, and it just needs a quick touch-up. However, anyone in the public eye should know never to leave the house without a small brush, Sebastian Shaper hairspray, and sometimes even a butane curling iron. This was a big miss, which is no surprise, but It’s CPAC, the Oscars of conservative politics. You can’t show up this way, no matter what state or district you represent. As someone who’s been deemed a big up-and-comer in the republican party, she will need to dress to match. Right now, her look says city council, not congress.
Please note that this is intended to help. We want Elise to have a big bright future in our movement, but she will not grow as a politician showing up like this.
The worst of the worst runner this year goes to Candace Owens
This proves the objectivity of our scoring because I am one of Candace’s biggest fans. However, we’re judging the style, not the person. This was an epic failure of highlighter proportions. Very few people can pull off highlighter neon yellow; sadly, Candace Owens isn’t one of them. This was a shock to all of us because Candace Owens has a great sense of style. We hope this was a risk she won’t take again, or someone else dressed her because this highlighter yellow pants-suit does her no favors. When we say no favors, we mean that we could hardly focus on the hair, skin, and makeup because all we could look at was this horrendous suit.
If it weren’t for her perfect skin, hair, and cosmetics, she would have been the worst of the worst. However, her eyebrows are perfect, along with her lashes. Our makeup artist commented, “Candace has the best brows and lashes I’ve seen in years.” Her hair had virtually no frizz with a gorgeous shine. She was smart enough to bring the flat iron backstage. The blouse under the suit looks like a nice modern piece, but who can tell with that highlighter yellow jacket? Sadly, we missed the shoes, but even a pair from this year’s runway collection by Christian Louboutin (which we love) would not have elevated that outfit. No risk, no reward is not something we recommend for “the main event” and televised speaking.
This is a perfect example of something that may look nice in the store but it’s terrible once the stage lights are on. A rookie mistake, but forgivable. Next year Candace will crush it. We know it. This was an anomaly we hope not to see again. Candace is on her way to being the next Dana Perino, and it’s important she looks the part.
There are several honorable mentions and critiques in the full CPAC fashion review. Women like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Laura Trump, and Mercedes Schlapp received honorable mentions. While Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Nikki Hayley did not do so hot. Lastly, men this year came out swinging. It was our most challenging category to judge. See below or check out the full report here.
This best of the best man went to Joe Mitchell, the state representative from Iowa.
Embarisngly, the team and I knew very little, if anything, about Joe Mitchell. The junior state representative looked sharp nonetheless. His suit was fitted like a glove.
The baby blue shirt, broken up with the white collar and red tie, was a risk worth taking. He is a modern, stylish conservative man. He was wearing a gorgeous timepiece that was not over the top. His hairstyle was effortlessly neat, and his makeup looked great and matched through, unlike many men with their man-made tan lines.
For an event of this caliber, a man never wants that “fresh out of the barber chair” blatantly new haircut. The sweet spot is about 7-10 days; you can tell that’s exactly what he did. His shave was close to the skin and very clean, and there were no missed neck hair or ungroomed areas. All in all, we could find nothing amiss or cheesy about Joe Mitchell’s style.
A job very well done. Joe has senator written all over him. If his style is any indicator, he will go from the state house to the senate, bypassing congress altogether.
The best of the best man runner-up went to Matt Gaetz.
You can’t have Matt Gaetz’s swagger and dress like a slob. Matt is stylish through and through, and he always matches the look with the occasion. It’s important to note that we saw Matt in two different outfits, both equally spectacular. His suit is tailored perfectly, and the combination of blues and greys and the crisp white shirt worked wonders. The dark grey, almost black tie took his look to a new level, making a standard business suit look formal.
Matt won from a pure style standpoint but unfortunately lost points in the hair and makeup categories. His makeup was caked on, too obvious, and too matte. His hair was too long between haircuts, and he had many little flyaways and stray hairs.
What we love about Matt’s style is that it embodies a cool, calm, and collected appearance that does not distract from his handsome face or powerful voice.
They say to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. If that’s the case, Matt is dressing like the President. His overall look lends to the respect he garners across the entire republican party.
The worst of the worst man goes to Sebastian Gorka
Sebastian Gorka is the prime example of a man trapped in a time he felt he was at his prime. This year was a step up from his usual three-piece suit and cheap jewelry combination, but not by much.
Sebastian, unfortunately, is just messy from top to bottom. Despite the fact that his wardrobe looks lifted right off of The Fraiser Crane show circa 1995, the yellow tie is a dagger in the heart. His suit is not tailored, nor does it fit well. The jewelry is cheap and gaudy looking, regardless of its actual price.
He looks much older than he is because his skin is dry. He had some obvious razor burn, and we believe that if you wear a goatee like this, everything around it must be clean and smooth. Sadly, as conservative men age, oftentimes, their style stays somewhere it shouldn’t. Sebastian is the epitome of this.
He is a decent-looking man whose lack of proper grooming and 90’s wardrobe makes him look irrelevant. Also, one final note- yellow on men is not flattering and a color that should not be on a tie.
The worst of the worst man runner-up went to Byron Donalds
Byron, Byron, Byron…this was a tough one. First, we adore Byron and never want to score him poorly. Second, his grooming is spot on, but his wardrobe tanked his average.
The highlights for Byron were his impeccable haircut and beard. The shape fits his face, and the dusting of grey throughout his beard is dignified. Unfortunately, his suit did not match. We’re unsure why he would put a yellow tie next to a blue suit. We assume the suit was bought off the rack because the sleeves were too short, the shoulders were too wide, and the front was too snug. Furthermore, the heavy wool style of this suit isn’t a complete miss, but it’s not something you wear to an event like CPAC.
His choice of shoes was also surprising, we couldn’t tell, but we assume they were rubber soled. We also did not notice a timepiece, which means one of his many admirers needs to gift him a Rolex. Most men’s jewelry is cheesy, but Byron could have added a nice tie clip, not that we would notice it next to that hideous yellow tie. We know Byron will come out swinging next year with style to match his natural swagger.
Byron is one of my top picks for governorship, the presidency, or vice presidency. Once he steps up the style, he will be a shoo-in. Looking forward to seeing him crush it next year.
Check out the complete style guide here or go to: www.lastgayconservative.com/fashion and see it all.