With her glossy mane of blonde hair, impeccable make-up, and beautifully cut, stylish attire, there can be no doubt that Jo-Anne Dobson oozes style from her very pores.
I can’t not ask her about where she gets her inspiration from, and which other well-dressed women she admires and follows, but I’m aware that this line of questioning could well be a sticky point for her, given the furore over her choice of hosiery on the day of the launch of Mike Nesbitt’s leadership campaign.
Thankfully, she doesn’t bristle; in fact, she barely misses a beat as she replies with the utmost professionalism: “I’ve always been interested in fashion, and I was long before I was interested in politics.”
However, whilst Jo-Anne says she’s lucky to live in and represent a constituency that is awash with pretty boutiques, she also admits she’s limited in the time she can actually spend perusing them.
Instead, she relies on owners of these stylish stores, whom she has befriended, and can trust to choose outfits for her they know she will suit and look great in. “They know what my style is, so they set things aside and I run in and pick them up.”
She adds, however: “I think I’ve proven myself in other ways; I like to be known for my professionalism, and the valuable work I do more than what I wear.”
She names her mother Joan as one of her biggest role models, describing her as “probably the most positive, optimistic person you could ever meet.”
Her best friend, the late Louise Peacock, who tragically passed away from cancer in January, was another. “Louise would have been the type of person who when she knew you were really busy, would have had cupcakes delivered to your office. She came to fundraisers and not once let on she was fighting cancer herself. She just was a spectacular person and somebody I really looked up to. I remember one occasion when Mark was recovering from his kidney transplant, and John and I had just arrived home from the hospital. It was Valentine’s weekend, and I could see, sitting on my front doorstep, a Marks and Spencer meal for two, with Prosecco and a rose. She would have done anything for anybody.”