Fashion - Sarah Palin;Look is the same;Labels have changed
When Sarah Palin arrived at the governor’s mansion in Juneau, Alaska, for the first time in December 2006, she wore a pink turtleneck, a preppy track jacket and what appeared to be a knockoff Burberry scarf. She had often campaigned in fleece. Introduced as Senator John McCain’s running mate in Dayton, Ohio, in August, she wore red pumps that cost $89 from Naughty Monkey, a brand whose target audience is teenagers.
As a vice-presidential candidate, Ms. Palin’s look — which has apparently undergone a costly makeover — has not changed dramatically from a “Working Girl” formula of authoritative jackets paired with feminine skirts that seem calculated to suggest that she is ready to go to work on Day 1.
The Republicans spent about $150,000 on a clothing makeover for Ms. Palin and her family, according to financial disclosure forms. But looking at the before-and-after photos, it was not readily apparent what Ms. Palin got, exactly, from her shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
What the number $150,000 suggests is that Ms. Palin traded up to designer versions of the clothes she wore before stepping onto the national stage, a surprising implication for a candidate who emphasizes her appeal to working-class voters.
“My first reaction when I heard about this was, ‘Honey, I could have dressed you for a lot less than that,’ ” said Cindi Leive, the editor in chief of Glamour magazine, which asked readers on Wednesday to vote in an online poll whether the expenses were too high; 72 percent said they were. “In general, she looks terrific,” Ms. Leive said, “but if you asked me to figure out where the $150,000 went, I’m not sure I could tell you.”
It is not yet clear whether Ms. Palin chose her new wardrobe or worked with stylists and other advisers, or what message her clothes were intended to broadcast. In fact, most of her bracelet sleeve jackets are so generic-looking that they could have come from any of the favored designers of Washington politicians: Oscar de la Renta, Escada and St. John.
The square ivory jacket she wore during her acceptance speech at the Republican Convention was a $2,500 silk shantung Valentino, reportedly bought at Saks. But the black wrap jacket she wore for the vice-presidential debate in St. Louis was a Tahari suit, according to a spokesman for the line, and costs less than $200; her shoes, according to the sleuths at ShoeaholicsAnonymous.com, were red imitation croc pumps from Kate Spade.
To her credit, Ms. Palin has been wearing those suits, and those awkward-yet-efficient, zip-close jackets (nothing says maverick like red leather) repeatedly over the last month, implying a sense of frugality that would belie the credit card statements of the Republican National Committee. To be scrupulously nonpartisan, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., her Democratic counterpart, seems to have a deep wardrobe of ties.
Some fashion executives went so far as to defend Ms. Palin for helping to support the economy.
“There’s no upside to looking frumpy or dowdy,” said Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys New York, where the campaign reported spending only $789.72, or enough for almost one outfit.