Just hours from now, our country’s leaders and their partners will arrive for the Opening of Parliament and the State of the Nation Address. So let’s talk about the ‘dress’ in address, as designers and ELLE fashion editor Asanda Sizani give us a red carpet preview.

Asanda Sizani: The ‘formal or traditional’ dress code means we generally see a colourful mix of styles at the Opening of Parliament. Some stay true to their party colours (think Helen Zille in DA blue), while other seize the opportunity to celebrate their cultural heritage and wear traditional garments. We also see the weird and wonderful, the simple and yes, underdressed, and the very over-the-top. We expect to see big and eccentric headpieces, from hats to fascinators and view-blocking turbans (think Baleka Mbete, National Chairperson of the ANC).

Malcolm Kluk: I think the trends this year should be either a romantic or floral trend with tulle and lace, or a tropical theme with jewel colours and tropical prints. I am sure the regular red-carpet fiasco will be evident, too. Over-styled outfits with everything on them! The fascination with fascinators is waning (thanks to the royal cousins at the Windsor wedding) and more traditional hats are becoming popular. Fashion is moving towards a more pared-down look with less bling, although I’m not sure if we will see this at the opening of Parliament. I think the most important thing is, if you dress for publicity, you end up looking like a mess. Sometimes the simplest outfit is chic and elegant and gets the most attention, because you stand out from the carnival around you.

Stefania Morland: I am sure we will be seeing loads of colour, African prints and huge hats, lots of style and a few fashion sins as well. I would like to see our politicians taking on a more contemporary approach to fashion – South African traditional wear mixed with a considered European flair rather than prints and styles borrowed from all over Africa. There is such a wide scope for inspiration here, and we have loads of very good local designers who can create just that.

Thula Sindi






Fashion tips for SA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko

Craig Jacobs: I like her chutzpah but she usually dresses like a women twice her age. I wish she’d take Angelina’s lead and step out in something a bit more fashion-forward like the Atelier Versace one-shoulder gown Jolie wore to the Golden Globes.

Angelina Jolie

Stefania Morland: Last year she looked quite plain. She is so beautiful and young and can definitely get away with something a bit more playful. She can certainly also pull off luscious bright colours like chartreuse, berry, purple or Schiaparelli pink.

Malcolm Kluk: We are dressing Lindiwe this year. Apparently last year she was dressed down, so this year we are making a bit of a statement. We think she looks gorgeous, young and fresh.

Asanda Sizani: Lindiwe is wearing Klûk CGDT – one of our favourite local labels who understand women’s bodies of all shapes.

Lindiwe Mazibuko


Fashion tips for Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape

Tiaan Nagel: For starters, she should change those awful rimless glasses. It makes her look so much older. Maybe something with a dark tortoise shell or dark khaki, to frame her face a bit. For the clothing, I think she should explore more sophisticated shades, not always primary red and blue; maybe some aubergine with some deep ochre yellow, or duck egg blue with some olive – almost a Dutch Vermeer palette, she would look less washed out.

Stefania Morland: I would like to see Helen Zille in something a bit more toned down this year.  Last year’s dress was just a little too evening.  She should be wearing something elegant that can take you from day into evening. Although I love colour, it would be nice to see her in a more earthy tone for a change – not bright, but rich.  I think she can pull off a good Jackie O look and look fabulous.

Jackie O

Jackie O

Jackie O

Malcolm Kluk: In all honesty, we would love to dress Helen Zille. She needs to be careful with what she wears: the big glasses and the short hair with the printed dresses can end up more Tootsie than trendy.

Asanda Sizani: She has been doing floor-length gowns. She often looks too done. I’d love to see her in something effortless. Perhaps a Margaret Thatcher-inspired look would be nice.


Helen Zille

Helen Zille

Fashion tips for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Craig Jacobs: I’d love to see this ageless beauty do a flowing leopard-print kaftan and, while she’s worn turbans in the past, it would be a nice change to be a little bolder and go for an electric blue Prada-style head wrap.

Tiaan Nagel: Let’s face it, the ’80s are over, so I suggest a softer shoulder line and a more luxe relaxed look. Oversized tops that are cut wider but shorter with high-waisted flare trousers in soft cottons and linens. Also, the hair needs to go: maybe something more natural and relaxed. It speaks of a struggle that’s no more. I think deep ochres, rich corals and vivid apple greens would look great on Winnie, and, off course, crisp white.

 Winnie Madikizela-Mandela


Asanda Sizani on Baleka Mbete: She is a style veteran and always dresses age appropriate. There’s something very regal about her, and I love the way she often wears traditional designs with bright colour, and incorporates modern pieces like embellished chokers. Today is very hot, and I would love to see her in a modern hairdo – no turban for once, and more attention paid to her make-up.


Malcom Kluk on Patricia de Lille and the President’s wives: I love the fact that Patricia de Lille can rock a tuxedo; I find it very modern. Also, wouldn’t it be amazing for the Zuma wives to wear LBDs instead of all that frou frou. Or even just one colour?

Patricia De Lille


Zuma’s wives


Fashion tips for MP Loretta Jacobus

Craig Jacobs: She’s great supporter of local fashion, and I am guessing she’ll be daring enough to go all-out in the season’s hottest hue, yellow. Why not a trouser suit and killer heels?

Asanda Sizani: Last year she did a matching fascinator and hat with a demure embellished dress. She has the figure; she must flaunt it in something edgier.

Loretta Jacobus



Asanda Sizani on President Zuma: Our President, with all due respect, is known for his colourful personality. It would be quite interesting to see him in something offbeat for once. An interesting tie-pin, a patterned tie – say a dark paisley. It’s all about the details.

President Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

Images from: TimesLive

One Response

  1. madelief

    I’d like to see parliament less worried about how they dress. Tone it all down to simplistic cocktail dresses, trousers with a sexy blouse…anything less costly but local. Most people today are living above their income and I believe that parliament should set an example by wearing something that can easily be worn again and supports the local industry. Make a social statement and not a fashion statement!