Until now, presidential power attire has been a male default: a sophisticated, dark - usually navy - suit, clean, white dress shirt, and party-hued tie. A patriotic flag is pinned to the lapel, and everything is anchored with sensible tie-ups.

On Thursday night, Hillary Clinton will accept the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. From now through Election Day, Clinton's style could set the precedent for what looking presidential means - for a woman.

Of course, even if Clinton does become the leader of the free world, the style of future female presidents likely won't follow suit - and that's because there has never been a female one-size-fits-all approach to fashion as there has been for men. (It's also why we won't care what Bill wears if he becomes the first first man.)

Not to mention, in this post-bland skirt suit workplace era, when a tailored fit-and-flare dress is just as acceptable as a cap-sleeve sheath or a pantsuit, whether it's wide-legged or slim-fit, is there really a power uniform for ladies anymore?

But what Clinton wears now does matter.

Always a connoisseur of the pantsuit, Clinton, 68, has long fancied blazers paired with roomy, straight-legged trousers in suits or separates. Our clothes send messages, intended or not, and the secretary's well-established uniform, although far from fashion-forward, communicates steady and reliable. Clinton is not going to shock us with any quick lefts, but, occasionally, she might delight with a suit that's magenta.

In the last few months, however, there have been subtle changes that signify a shift from candidate to president.

Her blazers have gone duster-length. Though Clinton remains partial to Nina McLemore, the New York designer to Washington insiders, the secretary drew some haute attention this spring for wearing a Giorgio Armani tweed jacket when delivering her New York primary victory speech.

Her standards - pearl earrings and necklace from the Japanese fine-jewelry company Mikimoto - got a bit more significant, going from blueberry-size to dime-size.

But what's most noticeable is how Clinton has tailored her look to her audience through color and texture. Part of every stylish woman's secret arsenal, this is key to good politicking. After all, in the office or on the campaign trail, why not use what you can - in this case, a diverse sartorial language - to connect with your audience?

At an event in early June in Brooklyn, Clinton appeared modern in a color-blocked black-and-white look. The pockets of her white jacket read urban chic.

When Clinton introduced Tim Kaine as her running mate in Miami, she went for a mint-green suit, appropriate for tropical-dwelling folk.

And when addressing the Veterans of the Foreign Wars in Charlotte on Monday, Clinton spoke to them in a salmon-and-gray checked blazer reminiscent of a down-home quilt.

Many people have compared her style to that of Michelle Obama (ever fashion-forward) and Laura Bush (prim and proper), but besides having lived in the White House, these comparisons are flawed and irrelevant. Clinton did that first lady job (not to mention, a resumé entry from 16 years ago). This time, she's aiming to be the driver, not the passenger.

If anything, we should be comparing Clinton's sense of style to other boss women: Facebook CEO and founder of Lean-In Sheryl Sandberg, who gravitates toward sheaths with three-quarter sleeves, or media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who wears as many pairs of pants as dresses but who coordinates her look with matching glasses.

See? No standards. No defaults.

Clinton may never have intended her fashion choices to matter.

But they will.

215-854-2704

@ewellingtonphl