advice from a fake consultant

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Friday, October 24, 2008

On Dressing For Success, Part One, Or, How Much Is Armani, Anyway?

So you’re the Governor of a State...but the next thing you know, you’re running for Vice President. The boss says you gotta bling up the ol’ Governor clothes—and the next thing you know, you’re having to explain how you can be the common “hockey mom” from Wasilla and how you can be clothed in more than enough money to buy Joe The Plumber’s house...both at the same time.

In the interests of telling the story fairly, I decided to conduct my own online shopping experiment.

Let’s head over to Saks and Neiman’s...and Bergdorf and Goodman’s to boot...and let’s just find out exactly what you would need to spend to look fabulous—and what you should probably be avoiding if you really want to project that whole “woman of the people” kind of thing.

That’s right folks, today, we play “Joe The Personal Shopper” for Sarah Palin.

Now I’m not one to deny a person a bit of bling when they get the chance (even though I think a $150,000 clothing allowance might make more sense for a “Vice Beyoncé” than a Vice President); so let’s be nice and buy our hockey mom a nice outfit for each of the seven days of the week...and just to be sure we’ve covered all the bases, let’s buy her three evening dresses.

Let’s be really nice and give a decent budget...I’m thinkin’ $4000 for each of the “daily outfits”, and, what the heck, let’s give her $5000 for each of the fancy dancin’ dresses. Total: $43,000.

That’s 66% off the “McCain” price.

I realize this will require sacrifice. For example, we will have to keep the cost of a pair of shoes to under $1000...and I realize that means she will have to cut back to Jimmy Choos and Dolce&Gabbanas...but these are tough times, and we must do what we must do.

Can it be done?

Can we stay within our budget...and still put lipstick on...the delicate flower of femininity that is Our Dear Sarah?

I say we can—and I’ll prove it.

You know what looks great on a candidate?
Timeless, elegant, stylish?

Saks has a fabulous outfit to get us started: from the Armani Collezioni, the “Rose Taffeta” Jacket—a vision in dusky bronze with a large rose pattern, three buttons at the carefully topstitched waist...and a delightful ruffled collar. Saks has combined the jacket with a basic black “Techno Cady Skirt” (which creates a “wrap” effect, despite the fact that it zips...). Now I know this is polyester...and not silk...but the two, together, are a bargain at $1950. Combine them with a basic black pair of Jimmy Choo “Patent Pumps” from Bergdorf-Goodman (at only $650) and we are on our way to getting a great look going.

We still have $1500 left in our budget for this outfit—so let’s buy Sarah a purse.

Bergdorf’s has the lovely “Arad Convertible Leather Clutch” by Jimmy Choo...and at $1575, we are only 75 bucks over our $4000 outfit budget.

If you are dressing “Caribou Barbie”, there’s nothing wrong with an animal motif...and who doesn’t love Prada...and Neiman’s has just the thing: the Prada “Animal Texture Jacket and Skirt”, combined with the Prada “Ribbed Sweater” ($1465, $560, and $595 each, respectively). The skirt is short enough to raise the temperature of even the coldest Conservative, and the jacket’s double-zip front and big “funnel” collar should keep even Rush Limbaugh’s eyes “up here...”

The jacket and skirt are Italian made, from polyamide...the sweater is also Italian, and made of wool and cashmere.

Here’s where we get some money back. The same Jimmy Choos that she can wear with the Rose Taffeta Jacket are perfect for this outfit as well.

And since we saved on the shoes...we can afford to splurge for a nice how about the Jimmy Choo “Patent Tote”? It is nice, featuring a black iridescent finish, a very bling-y gold shoulder chain—and of course, that Jimmy Choo nameplate. At $1795 it’s a bit expensive (the ensemble’s total is $4415), so for the next outfit, we’ll need to save a bit of cash.

We are, just for the record, $490 over budget to this point.

Now here’s where we save some money....and we do it on evening wear. Sarah is wearing her hair down these days, suggesting a bare shoulder look will be perfect for her. Bergdorf’s has, for only $995, the “Metallic Tweed Dress” by Lela Rose. Lapis metallic thread, bare shoulders, a black belt creating an Empire waist, and a length that comes to just above the knee...the look is simple and exceptionally elegant.

Mated to the dress: the “Patent Trim Coat”, also by Lela Rose: it’s navy and black tweed, with a big fur collar that lays mostly flat. The coat falls to the same “just above the knee” length as the dress...and it’s, again, a bargain at $1495.

I found the best shoes, ever, for this outfit. Neiman’s has a delicious pair of Manolo Blahniks, the “Something Blue Satin Pump”. Cobalt in color, 4 ¼” heel...and there’s a crystal brooch on the front that exactly makes up for the lack of accessorizing on the rest of the ensemble. $945...and absolutely to die for.

The perfect bag? The Christian Louboutin “Patent Square Bow Clutch” at $875.
Just go see it and you’ll see I’m right.

Our total for this first of our three evening outfits?
$4410...which is $590 under our $5000 budget.

We were $490 over, we saved $590 as of now, we’re $100 under budget with 1/3 of our shopping done.

“There is no one left to dress”

--Attributed to Cristóbal Balenciaga

The next outfit mixes Dolce&Gabbana with Armani to great effect. We start with the D&G “Tartan Check Jacket” from Neiman’s ($2450). It’s a classic, with black on black tartan pattern, suit jacket style, and wool and nylon construction for a appropriately “close” fit...and perfect to mate with the D&G “Metallic Tank Top” in shimmery silver ($595, at Saks). Complete the look with Armani’s “Classic Flannel Pants” (from the Collezioni). They’re made of Angora, Italian wool, and Spandex...again for the great fit...and Saks is practically giving them away at $615.

Finish the look with D&G’s “Erin Wide Slingback” with its 4” heel, in black, imported from Italy...and only $395.

The Jimmy Choo Patent Tote is perfect for this outfit, which means we save big by not needing another bag.

The total? $4275...which means we are again $175 over budget.

This next outfit, from Neiman’s, is the best of all.

You could not look better showing up for your first day being in charge of the Senate than if you were wearing Oscar de la Renta; and this combination of the “Caribbean Ombré Cardigan” and “Silk Shantung Pants” is absolutely fall-tastic. ($2150 and $1190, each, at Saks.)

The cardigan mixes blue, gold, green and brown Italian cotton and silk, the slacks are Italian silk of shimmering gold; and a $250 Cognac “Skinny Leather Belt” (again, Saks...), also by Oscar de la Renta, finishes the look.

This outfit is perfectly suited for the blue-green D&G “Carla Leather Pump” (Neiman’s, $415)...and if you’re a woman with a...reputation...the perfect purse might be the Jalda “Python Original Clutch” (again, a steal from Saks at only $490).

At first glance, this purse seems to be an odd choice—but after a bit of reflection (pardon the pun), it’s easy to see how the metallic silver snakeskin finish (with an interior that perfectly matches the shoes) is the perfect “non-match match” to the shimmering gold silk slacks.

The total of all this is $4495...which means we are now $670 over budget, with half the shopping done.

So at this point, let’s recap where we are, and set up for part two:

The Republicans paid $150,000 to dress Caribou Barbie while at the same time McCain is telling us that he knows how to cut wasteful Government spending.

I think they could have been much smarter about how they spend their money, I think 7 outfits for daily wear, each valued at $4000, and three “evening wear” ensembles, each valued at $5000, would have done the job--and done it for less than 1/3 of what has been far.

We are halfway through the process of choosing those outfits, and we are $670 over budget.

With that money we have shopped for Prada, D&G, Oscar de la Renta, Jimmy Choo and Armani, Manolo Blahnik...even Christian Louboutin and that crazy Jalda Python Clutch—and so far, we’ve found fairly good value for the money.

We have three more $4000 and two more $5000 outfits remaining to buy, which means if we can come in an average of $140 under budget on each one we can meet the goal.

I have a lot of research to do to get ready for tomorrow, so if anybody needs me I’ll be having a look at some of the most impressive clothing available from an American atelier today.

Wish me luck...I’ll need it.


Tom Paine said...

Did you have fun researching that? I think I detect a certain frisson.

Of course your budget might work if she could be expected to appear in the same outfit every Monday throughout the campaign. However, it's relatively modest compared to, say, a newsreader or a weather forecaster on TV, who faces comparable exposure.

I don't know why people feel able to attack Gov. Palin in ways that would be "inappropriate" if she were a man or, say, a Democrat.

Any idea what the Hillary's budget was? Any idea how much Cherie Blair cost to clothe and coif during Labour's last election campaign in Britain? Any idea what Sen. Obama's wardrobe cost? He's sharply-dressed, I have to give him that - and good threads don't come cheap. I look forward to the results of your further researches. Have fun browsing the ladies' wear websites and don't get too bored pricing Sen. Obama's suits etc. online (if his tailor even has online pricing). Rich trial lawyers don't get booted and suited from department stores you know.

...and I bet Beyonce spends that every week...

fake consultant said...

this was a great of deal of fun to research...and it is making a great diversion from the regular policy stuff.

but here's the thing: sarah palin has railed against "elitists" who "don't share our american values", has positioned herself as "just a hockey mom from small-town wasilla"...and is part of a ticket that claims they will control wasteful government spending...and that an obama administration won't.

can you see how this creates a bit of a...disconnect...between her stated reality and her actual reality?

beyond that, her expenses were paid for by the republican national committee...and the mccain campaign agreed to accept federal campaign funds...and that means she can't, by law, use that money to buy candidate clothing.

she will, however, be paid $208,000 a year should she be if she needs better clothes beyond the week's worth of donor funded bling that my theoretical foray has provided her, she can buy them herself. as we previously mentioned, us law also takes this philosophical position.

obama, on the other hand, has photographic evidence available that suggests he spends a lot less than you might think--at least on his shoes.

rich trial lawyers? that does not seem to describe obama at fact, what's striking about his law career is that he chose not to move, after harvard, into an extraordinarily lucrative position at a major firm.

you'll note he is not a partner in a major firm even today.

he also is free to spend donor dollars on clothing, if he chooses, as he is not accepting federal funding for his campaign.

as for looking good on a budget: you may recall that michelle obama is famous for her $148 donna rico dress that she wore on "the view" this spring.

as i have said many times before, if i were involved professionally in a campaign today i would much rather be telling obama's story than mccain's--and the polling is beginning to suggest obama is making the sale with us voters.

jmb said...

Well as TP said, great job on the research, but frankly I would have been bored long before you were and I am a woman.

That said and this topic of was front and centre at my book club meeting this very evening, here in Canada, this questioning of her clothing budget by everyone smacks a bit of attacking her because she is a woman.

If they had chosen a male VP they would indeed have spent an enormous amount (to the average person) although probably less than $150,000 to tog him out and this also probably includes the fee for some very expensive "image" consultant, don't forget to include that in your calculation.

Now personally I can't think of one good thing about the choice of Sarah Palin as VP on the Republican ticket and besides if I had the vote I would not be voting for McCain, whoever his running mate might be, but I do not think this is a valid thing on which to criticize the woman.

Now making a joke of herself on SNL, how tacky is that.

I just read your comment and you do have some valid points. But politicians being consistent in what they say (in her case now carefully fed into her brain to exit via her mouth) is not something we are likely to see anytime soon. Nor do we seem to expect it anymore.

Every time she says I'm just a smalltown hockey Mum or John McCain is a maverick (just what the USA need in this time of uncertainty, not)I'm ready to shoot her myself.

Still I found this post quite amusing and I can't believe you actually took so much time and effort to do it.Congratulations.

fake consultant said...

a few thoughts...

as it turns out, the democrats did choose a male vp, and as far as can be determined they haven't spent a lick of money to dress him.

he does, presumably, require constant hair maintenance...and his "tonsorial status" has been a subject of washington speculation for years.

that "hair engineering" work, however, appears to have been self-funded--and it doesn't look as though he's brought in expensive professionals for the campaign, if i might put it charitably.

(on the other hand, in the 24 hours since this story was first posted it has now come to light that the mccain campaign's highest paid employee is none other than sarah palin's travelling makeup artist, who is paid $11,000 a week. this means that the same people who once criticized john edwards for his $400 haircuts are now paying almost $1575 a day to keep palin coiffed.)

it turns out obama has been getting his haircuts at a chicago barber shop for the past 15 years from the same guy, a barber named zariff.

it is suggested that obama shops at barneys new york, something he can recently afford because of his book income, we are told; and to offer some pricing comparisons, a good armani suit runs about $2000.

all that said, let's return to the real story: one candidate is running next to the most qualified vp he can find...and the other is frantically engaged in every possible effort to make his vp candidate plausible--including playing "dress up" with her.

at the same time, that candidate tells us he "knows how to cut spending", that he can do this wile still cutting taxes...and that we should trust him to know how to do these things.

it's a combination of incomptence and hypocrisy that is hard to overcome.

based on this example of how he prioritizes, i would submit we can make some judgements as to how he might govern---and the projections you get from his actions are not at all appealing.

jmb said...

Don't disagree with one thing you have said really FC, in fact I rarely do.
While it is true that it shows how willing McCain is to waste money don't you think the whole two year presidential campaign is the biggest waste of money you can imagine? Only the USA is rich enough to afford this colossal spending binge and consequently no other country puts on this spectacle even if they do have this type of governing structure.

Still hopefully this is another nail in the McCain/Palin coffin.

fake consultant said...

i was about to simply address your comment, but the truth is it deserves its own story--and after the "part two" of this story is completed this evening, i think that's going to be next.

long story short, it's indeed a real problem, there is a relationship between the fact that members of the house are elected every two years and the emergence of these concerns...and the question of whether we can or cannot retreat from the permanent election cycle has no certain answer.

give me 48 hours or so, and we'll see if we can flesh this out into a better response.