The World's Most Expensive Mix 'n' Match Separates.

[Via the WaPo.]

I’ll be the first one to say that some of Palin’s jackets (and boots) are bad as hell. I especially liked the pink jacket in the Katie Couric interview. But, seriously, how many black skirts did they buy for her? Except for her suit at the debate, she’s been wearing more mix ‘n’ match separates than a middle school principal.

Fashion writer, ahem, the fashion writer, Robin Givhan wrote a piece for the WaPo on Palin’s style back in September. She concluded that Palin’s style was designed not to stand out. Which is exactly why it does.

Her clothes are unpretentious, but they are also unremarkable. They have nothing to do with Fashion. It’s fashion show season now, with designers unveiling their spring 2009 collections in New York, Milan and soon Paris. So far, none of them have suggested that the next new thing for the power-wielding woman is a straight black skirt with a boxy, oyster-colored blazer, which is what Palin wore when she accepted the vice-presidential nomination in St. Paul, Minn.

In the narrow confines of political style, the accepted rule is to dress in a manner that implies empathy for one’s constituency — so don’t wear anything too expensive — but also conveys authority. Palin has embraced the former and utterly ignored the latter. Nothing about her style jibes with the image of power. She does not dress like a boss lady, an Iron Lady or the devil who wore Prada.

I find it interesting that before we knew the RNC spent 150K to outfit Palin, Givhan’s first assertion was that Palin’s clothes imply empathy for the constituency. They spent triple the median U.S. household income, on clothes and hair, in an effort to make her look like a regular “gal” (but prettier).

It doesn’t matter so much in a traditional sense. Of course there will be donor outrage. Every dollar the RNC spent on Palin was a dollar that could have gone to saving Republican seats in the House.

The only thing that bothers me is that she comes across more and more as a packaged good. What, exactly, about Palin is authentic?

Update: I’ve thought about this some more.  For those of us living in synthetic America, it’s not a big deal to hear about people of means spending a ton of money on clothes.  However, these people of means aren’t pretending to be anything other than what they are.  Palin and her handlers have worked hard at this “I’m just an average mom” bit, but spending $150,000 in one month on clothes is antithetical to that.  There are people in this country, “real” people, the voters the GOP is going after, and they are worrying about whether they can afford to turn on the heat in their homes as the weather gets colder.

But this is the GOP’s pattern.  They talk a good game about understanding the problems of average Americans, but then they turn around and do something stupid and ridiculous which proves that they just don’t get it.  It may be technically “okay” to spend that much money on Palin, but it appears improper.  And considering that they’ve made this election all about appearances, it makes one wonder what they’re thinking.  Or if they’re thinking.

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  • rakia

    When I heard this story on the news, I was a little surprised. Is Palin really spending more money on her wardrobe than Clinton did on her pantsuits? Or does that not matter because it was the primaries?

    I haven’t admired anything that has come out of Palin’s mouth. And her hair needs help. But I’ve really liked her clothes. The black number she wore for the vice-presidential debate was chic and classic and really flattering. Ditto on the pink blazer she wore during the Couric interview. I think the woman dresses damn well.


    Also, it’s worth nothing that Palin’s clothing costs are a drop in the bucket compared to Cindy McCain (whose never met a high-priced designer she didn’t like).

    If the issue is about where the money is coming from to pay for Palin’s clothes, then fair enough. But aren’t men suits really pricey, too?

  • ladyfresshh

    what about her is authentic…her accent?

  • Also, it’s worth nothing that Palin’s clothing costs are a drop in the bucket compared to Cindy McCain (whose never met a high-priced designer she didn’t like).

    If the issue is about where the money is coming from to pay for Palin’s clothes, then fair enough. But aren’t men suits really pricey, too?

    I think the difference is that the Cindy funds her own shopping sprees, and there aren’t any line items in either of the candidates budgets for McCain or Obama’s (or Biden’s) suits. I’d be a little annoyed if I were donating money to the DNC only to have it go toward Joe Biden’s ties and hair products.

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  • There’s an argument for spending a lot of loot on Palin’s threads: she’s a walking, talking advertisement for McCain among the party’s base.

    The relatively cash-strapped campaign can send her hither and yon for much cheaper than it could roll out television ads. And if she’s in your town, she dominates the news, so she’s arguably more effective.

  • G.D. You’re not totally wrong. But don’t you think something can make sense and also be a poor decision? They could have dressed her just as well at a third of that cost and avoided the appearance of impropriety. Frankly, I haven’t seen her wear anything that she couldn’t have gotten at Macy’s (and some stuff she did get there), or Banana Republic, or Talbots.

  • moistenedbink

    No, her accent isn’t real either as they hired a voice coach for her and it is only when she is in rural areas that she starts dropping the g’s and saying the doggones and gosh darn its.

    She also needs to take her shoes down 2 inches if for no other reason than to spare her veins.

  • quadmoniker

    I think the really bad move was spending campaign contributions on it. Then everyone sees where and how the money was spent. It also raises questions of legality. Even if it’s a completely legitimate expense, it looks shady because clothing is listed as one of the things you cannot use campaign funds to by (although, of course, it means personal clothing.)