Who Requested Sarah Palin's $150,000 Makeover? News broke yesterday that since Sarah Palin's nomination for vice president, her wardrobe budget has cost more than a Porsche. Does it matter whether she was a passive participant being dressed by the GOP or if she went on a shopping spree? Yes, say Slate.com's XX Factor bloggers Nina Rastogi and Melinda Henneberger.
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Who Requested Sarah Palin's $150,000 Makeover?

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Who Requested Sarah Palin's $150,000 Makeover?

Who Requested Sarah Palin's $150,000 Makeover?

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This is Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Alex Cohen.

CHADWICK: OK, listen to this.

(Soundbite of song)

CHADWICK: Yes, when the road to the White House gets tough, the tough hockey moms go Prada.

COHEN: Well, that is if you're Sarah Palin, at least. The VP candidate has shown her former beauty queen side on the campaign trail. She has racked up a wardrobe, hair, and makeup bill to the tune of - are you ready for this Alex? - $150,000.

CHADWICK: Aah. Well, she's looking good, though.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: She is looking good. She's looking great. I mean, she's got these silk Valentino jackets, the striped suits with the French cuffs, and you don't even want to get me started on her shoes.

CHADWICK: There is a lot of comments about the six figure makeover not quite fitting with the governor's affinity for Joe Sixpack.

COHEN: Other folks are saying, hey, the VP is a big job. You need to dress for success.

CHADWICK: This is the lead story at slate.com right now. Nina Rastogi and Melinda Henneberger are both contributing writers to the XX Factor at that website. Hi to both of you.

Ms. MELINDA HENNEBERGER (Contributing Writer, Slate.com): Hello.

Ms. NINA RASTOGI (Contributing Writer, Slate.com): Hi, Alexes.

CHADWICK: And let's first hear about the goods. What is Governor Palin getting for all that money, $150,000, which we'll note came from the Republican National Committee. This is public campaign money.

Ms. RASTOGI: Well, this is Nina. And yesterday, after we found out about Sarah Palin's shopping bill, Slate sent me to Saks Fifth Avenue to see if I could recreate, virtually, her $150,000 purchases. And I've got to tell you, that money buys a lot of really, really gorgeous blazers and suits.

CHADWICK: Were you able to do it? Could you spend $150,000 and fit yourself out to run for vice president?

Ms. RASTOGI: Well, it was hard, given that I was trying to do it all in one afternoon. I eventually had to call in help from an Internet (unintelligible) who went to go look at bags and jewelry while I was trying to frantically pick up coats and shoes. So, I mean, obviously, Sarah Palin probably had people helping her shop, and she didn't try to do it all in one afternoon, but I definitely found that it was a challenge.

CHADWICK: Melinda, you and several bloggers at XX have been critical of Governor Palin over the last month, but here you are, over the last day, writing somewhat sympathetically about where she is now.

Ms. HENNEBERGER: Well, I don't blame her for the clothes. I mean, if somebody gave me a credit card and pointed me towards Neiman, you know, there's a zero percent chance I'd come back and tell you I found some very adorable things at JCPenney's.

But I do blame her for dividing us into elites and non-elites and real America and fake America, and, you know, we knew she was elite before we saw the clothing bill. I mean, she hired a Washington lobbyist for her town of 5,000. Who does that? And she has assets of 1.5 million herself, which doesn't put her in Cindy McCain territory, but it doesn't make her Josephine Sixpack either. So I think, you know, this is very much like John Edwards' $400 haircut. It just shows the disconnect between the stated agenda and the personal priorities. But I have been enjoying the fashion show, that's for sure.

COHEN: I hate to bring up the F word, but I'm going to do it. Feminism. I mean, I can't help but wonder, during all of this, is she getting closer scrutiny because she is a woman? I mean, women can't just do the suits that men do and the little ties and call it a day.

Ms. HENNEBERGER: Well, I think, male and female, you have to look good, and yes, I think women in most situations, not only if you're running for national office, are held to higher standards. Personally, I find that to be true. But I think that there's a lot of leeway between looking good and $150,000, as Nina found out yesterday.

Ms. RASTOGI: And it's also not - I don't think Sarah Palin is getting more attention for her clothing than, say, Hillary Clinton got for her ongoing struggles to find a wardrobe that conveyed the right message to the American public.

Ms. HENNEBERGER: I think it's interesting that the pieces they've chosen for her, or she's chosen for herself, are - look simple. I mean, they're pieces that look like they could have been picked up at Talbots, even though they weren't. So, I think they've done a good job at trying to project her in keeping with her statements about non-elites and real America. You know, it doesn't look like a wardrobe that's over the top, even though she paid a lot for it.

CHADWICK: You refer to this as the faux down market look?

Ms. HENNEBERGER: Right. It definitely works for her. I mean, I think whoever her stylist is has done a great job because you don't see her out on the stump - I mean, she's not wearing clothes that look like they cost a million dollars, even though she looks like a million bucks in them.

COHEN: And they don't cost a million dollars. It's $150,000, which, granted, is a lot of money, but is it really all that much for a professional wardrobe when you're running to be the vice president?

CHADWICK: I was wondering that, too. I mean, what should a woman spend to run for vice president?

COHEN: I spent about $20 on my outfit today, but the world doesn't see me, and I'm not running to be the leader of this country.

Ms. HENNEBERGER: See, I don't think the issue as whether she spent an appropriate amount of money. I think the issue is the disconnect between her constant harping on the trail about elites versus non-elites and real America versus non-America, and then we see the clothing bill that obviously - I mean, one bit of hypocrisy is, she's not even buying American. You know, if she keeps telling us that she and Todd are also sitting at the kitchen table worrying about paying the bills, you'd think she could at least buy from American designers.

COHEN: A little H&M in there, thank you very much. So what happens to all of this? She's got all of these clothes. Sooner or later this campaign is going to be over. What's going to happen to it, considering she didn't pay for these outfits?

Ms. RASTOGI: Well, apparently, all the clothes are going to be donated to charity afterward. And, you know, all I have to say is, I have to find out where that charity store is going to be because I will be in line to buy all of Sarah Palin's castoffs.

CHADWICK: Here are a couple of factors. One, she wasn't really thinking she was going to have to run for vice president. She was just up there in Alaska being governor, so she does need, you know, something else. Then she's got the family, right? They're going to be out on this campaign with her, so some of this money I think went for her husband and her kids, to get clothing for them. And then, I don't think she actually did all this shopping. Didn't somebody go and buy this stuff for her?

Ms. RASTOGI: I'm sure, I'm sure of that. If Sarah Palin has time to do as much shopping as it takes to spend $150,000, then, you know, we've got bigger issues than how much she's spending.

COHEN: Last weekend, we saw - Sarah Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live. She had a little interaction with Alec Baldwin, and I think he said something along the lines of, wow, you're even hotter in person. You know, I've heard a lot of guys talk about Sarah Palin being attractive. Does that matter in this election, and are these clothes and these hairdos and the makeup part of that image?

Ms. HENNEBERGER: Well, and if that's one of your major assets, you're going to show it off to its best advantage. I just think the main thing is the disconnect between what she says and what we're seeing, you know, on the clothing bill.

CHADWICK: Melinda Henneberger and Nina Rastogi, both writing at the XX Factor at slate.com about the subject that's evoking the most conversation today. Thank you both.


Ms. RASTOGI: Thanks a lot.

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