Male Box. Electoral Math – The High Cost of Looking Good

November 4, 2008 • Male Box


Joseph Ungoco for Second City Style Magazine

As someone who spends more on alterations annually than most people
spend on their entire wardrobe, I loathe to talk money when it comes to
fashion. My addiction is somewhat embarrassing and someone is sure to
be offended or somehow wind up feeling sartorially inadequate. However,
I now have to break this rule because the international press has made
so much fuss over the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee
spent on Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s wardrobe makeover. What should it cost to look good to voters — and, indeed, the rest of the world? Can the cost of a candidate’s wardrobe cost her politically? Let’s see…

Awhile back, I wrote about Michelle Obama’s $150 White House Black Market dress that sold out after her appearance on The View. Recently, she appeared on The Tonight Show wearing a J. Crew ensemble that cost roughly $300. Her appearance caused a similar spike in sales. The skirt alone, the Pembridge Dot Pencil Skirt,
cost $150. No one seemed to notice — or care — that this outfit cost
twice as much as the previous one. No one inferred that if she were
First Lady she would push her husband to double spending on entitlement
programs. Likewise, no one applauded her for buying American.

Last fall, on the Monday before New York Fashion Week, Cindy
McCain and First Lady Laura Bush appeared at the Republican National
Convention, each stunning in her own way in Oscar de la Renta
. An
Associated Press reporter published a widely syndicated article in
which she quoted a national magazine editor as saying that the total
cost of Mrs. McCain’s outfit was over $300,000. The blogosphere — where
journalistic integrity, let along fact checking, is virtually unknown —
soon ran with the story that the “outfit” cost $300,000. The truth is
that the editor valued her jewelry — Chanel J12 watch, diamond
earrings, and four-strand pearl necklace — at close to $300,000. Her saffron colored silk shirt dress only cost about $3,000. 

That same night, Mrs. Bush wore a conservative cream colored skirt
suit. The same magazine editor valued the suit at $2,500. However, as
any good fashionista with a Neiman-Marcus card knows, Oscar de la
Renta’s ready-to-wear suits are sold as separates and a jacket alone
costs $2,500. The skirt, or a pair of matching pants, would run another
$800 or $900, bringing the total cost of the outfit to about $3,400. Strange that no one commented at the time on how much more economical Mrs. McCain’s choice was.

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