Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brouhaha About Palin's Clothes Is Unnecessary

There's a big brouhaha about the $150,000 spent for campaign outfits for the Palin family, but it was necessary for the seven-member Palin family to update their modest wardrobe for a national campaign and the clothes will eventually go to charity. A candidate should wear appropriate clothes for campaigning. For example, Margaret Thatcher bought a new campaign wardrobe for each election. And by the way, she won every national election she competed in (3 total).

Clothing is a necessary campaign expense. Also, the new clothes are owned by the Republican National Committee (RNC). Jake Tapper at ABC said the clothing belongs to the RNC and will be returned to the RNC ( The McCain campaign is getting public financing, so it seems that the clothes were paid for by private donations to the RNC. But whether they were paid for by private or public financing it is necessary for Palin and her family to be appropriately dressed, especially because TV, internet, and other media are a vital part of campaigning and fashion faux pas will be noted.

Palin normally doesn’t spend much on her appearance. When she became governor and started working in Anchorage which has upscale salons, she decided to continue visiting her hometown beauty parlor that charges $30 for a haircut (

Palin frequently shops for used clothing for herself and her family. Just before she was offered the VP nomination, Palin went on a family expedition to a secondhand store called Out of the Closet. A saleswoman named Alison said Palin frequently visits the shop and the shop owner Ms. Arvold says Palin has been shopping at Out of the Closet for years and she noticed Palin on TV wearing used clothing from the shop (

Palin told Alaska Magazine that her daughter Bristol bought a $15 dress for a big gala event. This met with Palin’s approval; she told reporter Melissa DeVaughn that there was no need for a $300 gown. When a crew from Vogue arrived to interview and photograph Palin for a story Palin recalled, “In the interview you could tell that the writer was trying to get me to focus on the gender and appearance issues, but I kept talking about energy and national security, and not relying on foreign sources of energy.” The reporter continued to try to change the subject away from politics towards fashion. Palin told DeVaugn, “I don’t know about fashion. It’s bunny boots and fleece and The North Face. So I tried to talk about that, but it’s just not the way I’m wired” ( Even as a teenager Palin was a tomboy and didn't care much about clothes.

When Palin joined the McCain campaign she didn’t have an expensive wardrobe that general election candidates usually have. Therefore, the McCain campaign had to buy a lot of clothes for her to meet the expectations of the public and the press. Also, there are seven people in the Palin family, so the campaign had to buy clothes for seven people. McCain spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said that the clothing will “go to a charitable purpose after the campaign (

The media brouhaha about the Palin family’s new wardrobe seems slanted based on what I’ve read. The media should mention that the Palins didn’t have much national campaign clothing so they needed to buy appropriate clothing, there are seven members of the Palin family so that's a lot of clothes to buy, the clothes were bought by the RNC and will go back to the RNC and then to charity. Furthermore, women candidates are required to wear a greater variety of clothes than men candidates. Few people notice if a male candidate wears the same suit three days of the week on TV, but if a woman wears the same outfit for two days some people watching the TV will consider that inappropriate. So women candidates have to buy more clothes than men candidates. When all those factors are considered, the expense for the Palin family’s campaign wardrobe is not outrageous as some people in the media are implying.

As governor Palin normally chose moderate priced and inexpensive used clothing for herself and her family, but as a VP candidate she wears what the McCain campaign recommends. New clothes were necessary, so new clothes were lent to the Palins and those clothes will be returned to the RNC to be given to charity after the campaign. That is a smart strategy and also charitable, thus helpful to society.