Culture & Society

Style politiking of Sarah Palin

Republican vice-presidential ticket Sarah Palin’s dressing sense and style is making more buzz than some of the important issues in the US Presidential Elections. Her recent purchase of $150,000 worth of clothes from some up market fashion stores created a stir in the American politics. Kunal Majumder looks into her sartorial transformation from the quiet state of Alaska to the mainstream US politics.

Sarah Palin on Campaign Trail
Sarah Palin on Campaign Trail

The choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice President candidate has glamourised the US presidential campaign. Style and presentation have always been a factor in this American elections (remember slipping cleavage line of Hillary Clinton during the primaries). The Governor of Alaska pursues her sartorial transformation with vigour. Right from the day John McCain introduced her as his running mate, Palin has showcased that she is in sync with the latest in trend. In red peep-toe heels by Naughty Monkey, a favourite designer of Paris Hilton, she declared herself as a ‘hockey mom’. Palin wore a black pencil skirt paired with a silver cropped three-quarter sleeve suit jacket. As she took the centre stage in the US politics, her stylists got into work to present her both as a down-to-earth girl next door and a maverick prepared to be the leader of the free world.

Only a few months back during an address to the Alaska Independence Party, she was seen dressed in a pair of periwinkle parka with a lime-green flowered scarf and a matching green necklace. As the Governor, she mostly stuck to oversized denim t-shirts and jeans. This made her feel comfortable and more at home. At the beginning of the campaign, Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan had called Palin’s style “exceptionally ordinary”.

In a matter of weeks, Palin moved on from the shell suits to Valentino silk. She paired her oyster-hued jacket with a black pencil skirt and black peep-toe heels at the Republican Party convention. Elizabeth Snead of LA Times called it “no-nonsense style”.

Times even hinted that Sarah Palin could be the inspiration behind French designer Givenchy’s tough-looking winter collection. Not only has she caught imagination of Americans, the world seems to be smitten. Remember when Pakistani President Zardari wanted to hug her!

News portal Politico claimed that Palin’s shopping bill in September included $75,062 at Neiman Marcus, $41,851 at Saks Fifth Avenue, $4,902 at Atelier New York, $4,397 at Macy’s and $5,103 at Bloomingdale’s. Her picks included tailored jackets, pencil skirts and patent heels. The former beauty queen’s personal shoppers also spent £2,900 on her hair and make-up. However Palin rubbished the claims and said her clothes are loaned by her party and will be donated to charity after the elections.

Republicans justify Palin’s shopping spree. They say she needs new clothes to match climates across the 50 states. Democrats might criticize the expenditure in these tough economic times. But we are not complaining. After all campaigning to be a heart-beat-away from the most powerful person on Earth needs some style if not substance!

Among the changes, Palin updated her eyewear replacing dark frames for new titanium rimless glasses that seem to open up her face and make her eyes look brighter. Her hairdresser has undone her hair and let it down giving her a friendlier look.

While Barack and Michelle Obama have often been critized for being elitist due to their sartorial taste, Palin has tried to ensure her refined looks without being tagged as designer-label elitist.

Presidential campaign might have added a few Valentinos and Manolo Blahniks to her wardrobe but Sarah Palin is not new to glamour. She is a former Miss Wasilla (her home town) and a runner-up at the Miss Alaska 1984 pageant. She even appeared on the cover of the American Vogue February 2008 issue. If rumours are to be believed, Hugh Hefner wants Palin to pose nude for Playboy. That of course, if she doesn’t get elected as the VP!

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