Robin Givhan is some kind of fashion editor for the Washington Post, and from time-to-time, she makes a game attempt to apply her particular area of expertise to politics. This creates what I believe to be some of the most trivial political writing available to bipeds, and this was never more true than it was on July 20, 2007, when a glimpse of Hillary Clinton's cleavage straight up gave her the vapors. Twelve paragraphs worth of the vapors. For a while, no one knew what might happen as a result of the revelation that Hillary Clinton had ladyparts. Guess we all know what a GAME CHANGER that was now, right?
Anyway, believe it or not, Givhan has won a Pulitzer for her writing, and yes, I am being totally serious about that. And, by happenstance, we find ourselves today with a political story that falls squarely on her sweet spot, namely, this crazy, six-figure shopping spree of Sarah Palin's. Now, you'd think that a fashion editor with a yen for politics and a Pulitzer Prize winning eye would have been right on top of Palin's fashion choices, and what they say about her as a candidate. Well, as it turns out, you'd be very wrong about that! As Mark Nickolas points out, Givhan missed the Palin story by a Wasilla Main Street mile in an article she wrote for the September 28, 2008 Washington Post - well after her RNC-sponsored trip to Saks and Barney's - entitled "Sarah Palin's Unassertive Fashion Statement":
Oh, do enjoy this:
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.
Her clothes don't have the aura of sophistication like that of Michelle Obama's sheaths and pearls. They do not have a patina of glamour like Cindy McCain's heiress wardrobe. And they do not announce themselves with the confidence, assertiveness and listen-to-me-ness of Sen. Hillary Clinton's bold pantsuits. Palin's clothes are common. Everyone knows someone who dresses like her, which is partly why so many folks seem to think that they know her.
Her clothes are common? So much so that "everyone knows someone who dresses like her?" I had no idea the high cost of dressing common had expanded to the price of one thousand, nine hundred and twenty three separate subscriptions to Robin Givhan's newspaper.