Palin Dressed Down
Melinda Henneberger and Nina Shen Rastogi take your questions about the candidate's expensive wardrobe.
Who's the Personal Shopper?: And does that raise another question re: possible campaign finance violations—i.e. if that person's salary was paid for through donations, etc.?
Melinda Henneberger: I don't know who the personal shopper is, but she is a woman of taste and vision, with a big future ahead of her! I wondered if Cindy McCain had been helping her, given that her favorite designer is Escada, too.
Philadelphia: I wonder if they might be affecting Republican fundraising efforts. Why should I contribute money that I thought would be going to TV advertising when it instead winds up going to someone's wardrobe?
Nina Rastogi: Well, Palin's wardrobe is part of the advertising effort, isn't it? It's not as if fundraising funds were being used for extravagant dinners or vacations for the candidates' families. (At least, I don't think they were.) The campaign clearly felt it was important, image-wise, to show Palin in really top-notch, classy threads.
Buckland County, Ohio: Oh, puh-leeze. Sarah Palin didn't divide us—the cultural elitists on the left went after her the second Palin was nominated because she came from a small town with small town values. The news media coverage of her—and Joe the Plumber as well—has been completely over-the-top, and borderline predatory. Where's the extended, wall-to-wall, coverage on every single gaffe Joe Biden has made?
Melinda Henneberger: This whole small-town-versus-big-city idea annoys me, as someone who grew up in a town the size of Wasilla. Because I just don't see the big diff between people there and in cities—where lots of people from small towns move to find work. Are our values really so different? Did the NY firefighters who ran into the Twin Towers to save people suffer from a lack of "small town values''?
Palin didn't buy the clothes: Do you think there's a possibility that she simply had no idea how much they cost?
Melinda Henneberger: Good point. She has too much to do demand to see the bill—though that would've shown what a reforming maverick with executive experience could really accomplish, by taking on personal shoppers within her own campaign!
Washington: So how would you describe Sarah Palin's look? I find it very distinctive, and I think it works for her (not what I would go for personally, though). However, I can't quite sum it up. It is sort of executive-looking (slightly masculine), but the three-quarter-length sleeves also seem feminine, and all the lines are clean. How stylish of a look is it compared with East Coast fashions?
Nina Rastogi: Oh, I think she's incredibly stylish. (Or, I should say, she's stylish *now*—there were some outfits she wore in Wasilla that were real doozies.) The clean lines and bright colors suggest confidence, power. And she emphasizes her waist really nicely, making it very feminine and—dare I say it?—sexy at the same time.
For the record: My feet are killing me just looking at all the picture of those high high heels she wears. And I have a desk job, I'm not working rope lines or standing at podiums or trotting up plane steps!
Melinda Henneberger: Yes, if most of us had those shoes on, no one would notice because they'd be watching us grimacing in pain. But she is tough!
Alexandria, Va.: Could she really have been told to leave all her personal clothing behind before hitting the campaign trail? Do we think underwear was included in the $150,000? After all, she needed to look (and feel) her best, and even in lingerie, quality makes a difference. Maybe $500 or so went toward some great bras or cute undies.
Nina Rastogi: I think contemplating Sarah Palin's undies is a job for a very different forum! (But I did wonder whether I should add hosiery to my imaginary Saks shopping bag ...)
Philadelphia: I was really surprised when I heard $150,000 was being spent for Palin's wardobe. Some of the outfits I have seen her in recently are god-awful ugly. For example, the offwhite blazer and black skirt she wore for her speech during the convention and the red leather jacket she wore a couple days ago. Did she pick them out herself or did the RNC hire a stylist as well?
Melinda Henneberger: I'm sure that as Escada-gate continues, we will learn more about who chose the clothes. But with the exception of that red leather jacket, I would argue that they did get their money's worth.
Nina Rastogi: Thanks for participating, everyone—good to chat with you!
Melinda Henneberger: Thanks for joining the conversation.
Slatecontributor Melinda Henneberg is author of If They Only Listened To Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians To Hear. Slate columnist Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, N.Y.