On Sunday, the New York Post published a report detailing Hillary Clinton's "extravagant" campaign wardrobe. While this is nothing new — one-time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin also saw backlash against her own campaign wardrobe makeover (and, you know, all the men who receive criticism over expensive suits. We're working on finding an example.) — the press crystalized around one specific item: The Giorgio Armani jacket she wore to give her New York primary victory speech, which retails for $12,495.
It certainly makes for a splashy headline, but the Post got a few things wrong: The jacket is made of leather, not tweed, and it's currently on sale at Giorgio Armani's website for $7,497, should anyone be interested in copying Clinton's style. It must be said that it's somewhat ironic that Clinton, often lambasted for her lack of style, is now being lambasted for wearing a look quite literally straight off the runway — the jacket was part of look 13 in Armani's Spring 2016 show. The Post also posits that Clinton must be spending her own money on all these clothes, as no designer is taking credit for dressing her as they do with First Lady Obama; with Anna Wintour backing her campaign, it would not be outrageous to think that designers might also be quietly gifting clothing to Clinton. (The Post also attacks Clinton's style by mentioning that Michelle Obama has nabbed the cover of Vogue twice; it would be worth noting that Clinton has her own cover of Vogue, for which she wore Oscar de la Renta.)
Of course, Clinton's style shouldn't have any bearing on her candidacy or her ability to lead our country, whether she chooses to become a fashion plate overnight or ignore it altogether. But the reason women like Obama and Kate Middleton — women who are, admittedly, in different positions than Clinton — are admired for their fashion choices is less for their personal style than their ability to use fashion as another way to deliver a message. Think of the Tracy Reese dress Michelle Obama wore to deliver her DNC speech in 2012, or the Prabal Gurung dress Middleton wore in Singapore, or even the Nanette Lepore coats Chirlane McCray and Chiara de Blasio wore to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's inauguration; they made headlines less for how they looked and more for how fitting they were for their respective appearances.
In the same vein, Clinton and her campaign should take her clothing choices more seriously — especially in a world where her attire will be talked about three times as often as those any of her male peers. Fashion choices matter. Owning an extravagantly expensive piece of clothing isn't the problem — wearing it to discuss income inequality and job creation, however, is questionable. There are plenty of American-based designers making high-quality clothing just as worthy of being worn on the campaign trail, and we're sure that after this press storm, Clinton will find room for a few in her campaign wardrobe.