What If: A Fashion Nightmare With VP Sarah Palin

10/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Karin Tanabe Simon & Schuster author of "The List" and "The Price of Inheritance" (August 2014)

"Fashion in Alaska means your fur hat is dead." Yet somehow Bouffant Barbie has convinced America that she's a fashion sensation and will pile her dogsled with suitcases full of femininity as she skids into the land of the badly buttoned, Capitol Hill.


With all the pomp about her girly veneer and what she will do for the butch broads of Washington, you would think that Nancy Pelosi casts her votes while sporting cargo pants or a prison jumpsuit. How will Sarah Palin do it differently?

She'll show how un-Washington she is by vetoing all pro-environmental legislature in a coat made of baby seal pups and polar bears. Women with bulging bangs, wireless rims and bear claw necklaces will seal deals on K Street. Fur will become the new cashmere, Cruella de Ville a fashion icon, Holden Caulfield's red and black hunting hat the topper of choice, the new "it" bag the AK-47, taxidermy will replace scrapbooking as the hobby for hockey moms and the PETA folks' tears will overflow the Potomac.


Washington is the only city in America where politicians are the fashion plates, and the clothes that dominate the Hill trickle down Pennsylvania Avenue onto the backs of the rank and file. Those months after Dubya was first elected, you couldn't sling a martini on Capitol Hill without hitting a cowboy hat. Suits and buckaroo boots suddenly became hip happy hour wear. Men that two-stepped and said 'howdy do' replaced the coffeehouse Clinton liberals. It was a fashion disaster. It died down by the second term, but those first hundred days were a hee-haw bonanza.

There is only one thing that could be worse: the Palin veep fashion extravaganza. As Palin is the new media darling--so much that you wonder if that wrinkly white man next to her is not a geriatric back-up dancer--if she were to come to Washington and hit us with a cold slap, so would her Alaskan fashion. McCain and his dry Arizona roots are certainly not doing much to influence the way we dress.


Patagonia may pooh-pooh Palin for outfitting herself in their nature-loving gear, but under a Palin vice presidency, Gore-Tex raincoats and knee-high fishing boots would become de rigueur urban wear. Bonus points if you carry your files in a briefcase crafted from an animal bladder or hang your hunting jacket on a pair of antlers before rushing to a Monday meeting. We're badly dressed enough in Washington already--let's not throw animal remains into the mix of poly-cotton separates and navy blue everything.