Regardless of what you think about Sarah Palin’s politics, it’s a little difficult to get around the fact that the woman is, at this point, an institution unto herself. She’s written a New York Times Bestseller, her reality show on TLC sometimes gets good ratings, and hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t generate a handful of headlines across multiple mediums. Like it or not, the woman has fans.
So why isn’t she inspiring the same kind of apparel sales as, say, Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton?
We refuse to believe that the answer to that question is that conservative women just don’t like fashion. While Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg might be unapologetic supporters of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party, Atoosa Rubinstein, a fashion editor for Cosmopolitan who went on to found CosmoGIRL and run Seventeen, once told Charlie Rose that her politics were conservative. Laura Bush regularly dropped big bucks for Oscar de la Renta when she was first lady (and probably still does). The high cost of Cindy McCain‘s wardrobe still inspires sticker shock, long after media minders stopped chronicling how much she spent for those campaign appearance outfits in 2007 and 2008. A little closer to home, one of the the sharpest dressed ladies in our office, Abrams Media Sales Manager McKenna Sweazy, used to work at Yves Saint Laurent and was with the ultra-chic PR Consulting before that. And she’s an unapologetic Republican.
Similarly, it’s not like Palin downplays the importance of her appearance. The $150,000 of RNC money she spent on her campaign wardrobe in 2008 got more press coverage than everything Michelle Obama has worn in the past three months combined. Those outfits couldn’t have gotten more press coverage if the designers themselves had frantically called around to Vogue and T Magazine to let them know Palin would appear bedecked in their garments. And if you find something about her politics objectionable, you can’t really say her penchant for smart suits and clean lines is a bad thing.
Maybe this dedication to appearance is a habit from her days as a beauty queen, but for all the attention her looks have gotten, isn’t it a wonder that the women who admire her didn’t flock to Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue (the stores from which her campaign looks were culled) to buy the same kinds of bracelet sleeve cardigans and blazers she wore into the ground? Shouldn’t the red windbreaker she wore on the cover of Going Rogue have spawned the sale of a million North Face jackets?
For a woman as patently dedicated to fashion as Palin, it’s a big surprise the industry — and her rabid fans — haven’t responded in kind. Even though her book sales are slipping, she’s proved she can sell product as well as she sells herself. So why not clothes?
What do you think? Are you inspired by Sarah Palin’s style?