Décolletage: A low neckline on a woman's dress. A French import, the word is pronounced approximately day-cole-TAZH. Note that décolletage is always a noun, while the related décolleté (day-cole-TAY), meaning "low-cut at the neckline," is an adjective: "A décolleté dress." The literal meaning is "uncovered at the neck."
Both words were in the headlines recently after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton wore a moderately low-cut black top beneath a pink jacket while speaking on the Senate floor July 18 about the cost of higher education. Sharp-eyed Robin Givhan, the Washington Post's fashion writer, was the first to comment: "There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2," Givhan wrote on July 20 (free registration required). "It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton." Givhan called the display "a small acknowledgment of femininity and sexuality." (Judge for yourselves.)
Six days later, Clinton's campaign mailed a fundraising letter saying Givhan's column was "grossly inappropriate."
This has proved to be a story with remarkable legs, so to speak. It was still on the op-ed page on July 28, when New York Times guest columnist Judith Warner wrote, in "The Cleavage Conundrum" (restricted to subscribers):
I’d always thought that, when you reached a certain age or a certain stage in life, you sort of bought your way out of the sexual rat race. You could be a “person of cleavage,” to borrow a Pulitzer-worthy phrase from Ruth Marcus, a Post columnist, but you could nonetheless make it through your day without having to give the matter much thought.
In other news of (a) political fashion, the blog Radar reported on Republican presidential candidate John McCain's supposed "gay sweaters." And Manolo the Shoeblogger scolded maverick Republican Ron Paul for his "disgraceful" footwear.