Politics & Fashion Part 12 and J. Crew Seizes the Moment!

Finally. We have managed to gather what’s left of what passes for an adult mind as we effort this update to the ongoing ‘Politics and Fashion’ saga.

We start with a fun story, Michelle Obama once again sporting classics from J. Crew.  In this instance Ms. Obama wore the clothier’s duds Monday night while appearing as a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Kevork Djansezian/AP

PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/AP

The top is the Italian Deco Shell, a silk twill tank that is now on sale at J. Crew for $99.99 in certain colors.

Courtesy J. Crew

Courtesy J. Crew

The skirt is Crew’s Pembridge-dot pencil skirt in a silk and nylon blend, fabric that is described as a “shimmery jacquard.”  The skirt is nothing short of stunning when seen in person. It retails at $148.

Courtesy J. Crew

Courtesy J. Crew

Completing the elegant ensemble was the Crystal-button colorblock cardigan in a wool/nylon/cashmere knit.  TP suspects the brooch at the neck was another Erickson-Beamon creation.

Courtesy J. Crew

Courtesy J. Crew

Crew also has this piece on sale, now reduced to $89.99.  If it holds any appeal for your walk-in, we recommend running, not walking, to the online shop, or dialing up your personal shopper at the local level.  Somehow we don’t think many, if any of these items will be around after a few hours.

CEO Mickey Drexler and and the rest of the marketing minds at J. Crew had to be ecstatic upon learning what Mrs. Obama was wearing for the high profile appearance. And the company was wise, investing in a paid advertisement in Google search results. Below, copy from the ad, clearly linking the company and the candidate’s wife:

    1. Michelle Obama in J.Crew®

      Get the Look Michelle Obama Wore on
      The Tonight Show Only from J.Crew.

Inevitably the conversation turned to the controversy surrounding the wardrobe of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. In the course of the conversation host Jay Leno asks “What is it, about $60-grand? $60, $70,000 that outfit?” and Ms. Obama answered, “Actually, this is a J.Crew ensemble. You can get some good stuff online.”

Kevork Djansezian/AP

PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Mrs. Obama was gracious in her comments about the Palin wardobe issue:

“A V.P. pick, it’s like being shot out of a cannon. All of a sudden you’re at the center of attention, and you want to look good,” said Michelle Obama, adding she has never met Palin. “You’re living in your home, minding your business, and all of a sudden you’re on the national stage and everyone’s watching.”

We refer of course, to the news last week that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on clothing and accessories for Ms. Palin and her family.  Those expenses include $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores in St. Louis and New York, as well as $75,062 at the Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis. Other purchases were made at the Gap in Minneapolis and Lord & Taylor.  A story in WWD has more:

“While the FEC records do not identify whether the purchases were made by McCain or Palin, the McCain campaign has not disputed the news reports that the vice presidential nominee and her family made the purchases along the campaign trail, stretching from Minneapolis to St. Louis to New York.”

PHOTO: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

Above, Governor Palin in Minneapolis at the Republican National Convention.  In previous coverage WWD has said Ms. Palin favors Escada, and has purchased items secondhand in Anchorage.  Many have suggested the black suit worn by the candidate for the vice presidential debate was by Elie Tahari.

In a follow-up to their original story, Politico.com interviewed a number of stylists and image consultants:

“She is dressing appropriately for the job she is going after,” said Lauren Rothman, a Washington stylist and the principal in the fashion consulting firm Styleauteur.”

The Politico story also includes this quote from Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan columnist:

“In the narrow confines of political style,” Givhan wrote last month, “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.”

Senator McCain responded to the outrage on NBC’s “Meet the Press“:

“She lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this and there was some — and some third of that money is given back. The rest will be donated to charity…”

Steve Pope/Getty

PHOTO: Steve Pope/Getty

Arguably one of the comments that meant the most to us the past several months came from the wonderful Miss Kate, aka Nautical by Nature. In response to our post “Politics and Fashion Part 5, Real Yale Students Talk Gossip Girl” earlier this month she wrote:

“I love how you always show products from both parties ) Very honorable”

Perhaps it is all the years we spent in broadcast journalism, perhaps it is because we were raised in a culture where one’s honor essentially trumps all else, perhaps it is because we simply believe in being fair in what we write here.  But whatever it is, we didn’t post earlier on the Palin wardrobe issue because we couldn’t find ‘the other side’ to include in the post.

We believe Ms. Palin and family suddenly found themselves in a situation where it was painfully evident everyone needed new apparel. All one needs to reach this conclusion is look at photographs and video of the family the day of the announcement, let alone the days before that announcement.  What worked well in Anchorage would not play positively on a national stage. So we take no issue with the acquisition of new wardrobes for the family.

And we understand the immense difficulties inherent in attempting to procure this type of merchandise for high-profile individuals. One simply cannot walk into the nearest Macy’s with their Secret Service detail and start trying on suits, if for no other reason than the Service won’t allow it. Period. Our struggle is with the folks at the RNC who know better, who know how poorly this sort of thing plays on Main Street. One need not have completed their courses at American University’s Campaign Management Institute to know the impact this sort of thing has on the electorate. Honestly.

In conclusion, we have finally come to the reality that there really isn’t “another side” to the issue in a textbook sense. So we will attempt to lift the mood by sharing links to two stories related to our post this afternoon. The first is at a site called Jezebel (a tad raw for our taste, but there you have it), a delightful piece with some fun fashion selections, all from J. Crew:

“What if we headed to J Crew.com and picked clothing for Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain, Sarah Palin and the kids? We went on a shopping spree and chose election night outfits and inauguration day ensembles for the ladies…”

Courtesy J. Crew & Jezebel.com

Courtesy J. Crew & Jezebel.com

Above, a collage from Jezebel showing their picks for Sasha & Malia Obama; for more selections read the rest of the post.

The other is a story by the good folks at The Cut blog from NY Magazine in which they show “How to Spend $150,000 at Saks and Neiman Marcus.”


Collage: NY Magazine, PHOTOS: Getty

We will leave things here and trust readers to understand our efforts on this one.


Filed under Obama Fashion & Politics, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

10 responses to “Politics & Fashion Part 12 and J. Crew Seizes the Moment!

  1. I thought Michelle Obama looked lovely on Leno. I was a little surprised to see her looking so summery in October, but I guess it is LA, and I guess we could all use a little cheering up 7 days before the election. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling election fatigue!

    I think Sarah Palin looks very put together in her new wardrobe. I don’t really blame her either – although it’s funny to think of her dressing in the same labels as the “elitists” she mocks. I read in Newsweek earlier this week that republican donors to the RNC are fuming – not that they spent the money, but that the RNC didn’t hide the numbers better until after the election. Ha!

  2. Excellent, well written and completely fair post. Kudos to you Princess! xo

  3. Yes, if “Akris” is on the label, it’s definitely high-brow! But I’m just jealous, in my days long, long ago of working Akris sample sales, it was beyond a joy to wear those amazing clothes, even the very conservative ones!

  4. Excellent, excellent post TP!

    I think Michelle Obama’s comment was very gracious (much like the way Laura Bush defended her). What is up with all those broaches though? It appears dowdy to me.

    I would love to know what shoes Sarah Palin is wearing….they always look fabulous, but my feet hurt just from looking at the pics!

  5. Thank you for addressing this, in an even-handed manner like Kate pointed out. I have been surprised and dismayed at what I perceive to be an incredibly unfair, sexist attack on Palin for what I agree was a politically necessary wardrobe upgrade. Where is the focus on what Senator Obama is spending on his suits? Or Senator McCain, for that matter? This sort of news might come out in relation to a male candidate – see Sen. Edwards’ $400 haircut – but it comes and goes so quickly when it relates to a man, vs. the full-fledged character attack it seemed to provoke with Gov. Palin. ((end rant))

    So while I love, love the “J. Crew/ Mrs. Obama” outfit on its own merits, I can’t help but wonder that her handlers may have specifically chosen a “budget” (I know, not budget for everyone, but compared to couture) outfit for this high-profile TV appearance. Props to Mrs. Obama for speaking kindly about Gov. Palin’s wardrobe flap, but I still look at this with a critical eye.

    Sigh. Have a wonderful day, TP!

  6. Fantastic post. I love that Michelle Obama can look so chic when she shops at JCrew and Black and White Market. It is easier to look lovely when you have an unlimited wardrobe and free reign at Neiman’s. But, beauty on a budget takes more creativity. Michelle and her stylists do a great job getting a lot of beauty for the buck.

  7. You are doing such a great job being fair and open minded–you need to do the news 🙂

    I liked Mrs. Obama’s outfit but I have to admit I love Mrs.Palin’s. She is standing next to Mrs.McCain a lot so if she didn’t look top notch, she’d look frumpy 😉

    (Of course, I could only afford Mrs. Obama’s outfit.)

  8. I found you via your comment on La Belette Rouge’s blog. I liked the fairness of this post, very detailed, and interesting read 🙂

  9. You always have the best posts!

    I LOVE Michelle’s J.Crew skirt!

  10. Thank you – I just adore Michelle Obama and even more now that she is sporting lots of the Crew I so love!

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