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Style & Beauty

Robin Givhan On Sarah Palin's "Exceptionally Ordinary" Style

The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion columnist discusses Sarah Palin's style with readers, stating "Sarah Palin's style is exceptionally ordinary. Nothing about it connotes authority. No detail announces that she is in charge. And that's what makes it so powerful." Here are some excerpts:

On her hair:

Bristol, RI: What's with her hair-do? It reminds me of the Flintstones. Is there a retro message in that styling? Did you see it elsewhere, before she was tapped by McCain candidate? Are you seeing it copied by others?

Robin Givhan: I've been in Europe at fashion shows the last few weeks. I can say that I have seen no one along the runway mimicking her hairdo.

On her glasses:

Keyport, NJ: Robin : Interesting take on Palin, not sure I agree with all of your points though. You mention her ordinary glasses, what is her optical condition and do you think she wears them to appear more intelligent ?

Robin Givhan: Her optical condition? I have not checked her ophthalmologist's records. If she wears them to appear intelligent and there's no prescription lens in them, I find her choice of frames odd. These frames are about disappearing on the face, not standing out.

On her posture:

Santa Fe, N.M.: Both a commenter and you said that Sarah Palin's posture is very erect. That may be true when she's standing up, but in her interviews, she sits hunched over in a posture my father never would have tolerated! Sit up straight! he would have thundered.

Her body language in those interviews has been terrible. She may be good at projecting confidence when she's in front of a cheering crowd, but she loses it when she actually has to show some capability.

Robin Givhan: I don't think I said she projected confidence in those interviews. If I did....it was a slip of the fingers.She has good eye contact. And I guess your father was more demanding on the subject of posture. I think she sits up pretty straight.

On her stockings (or lack thereof):

El Paso, Tex.: Why doesn't Palin ever wear stockings in formal professional meetings (or anywhere else for that matter)?

I can't think of any professional situation in which this would be appropriate. Hollywood?

But New York? the UN? Washington DC?? Ground Zero? Interviews on primetime national TV? Is she just hot, being away from Alaska? Have I become an Ivy League fuddy-duddy?

Robin Givhan: I'll end with this question which has come up before. Pantyhose. I think they represent the great generational/regional divide. Most women don't wear them in professional and formal situations in cities on the coasts. Or they do so with great exasperation.

Younger women tend to avoid them. Palin not wearing them is, I think, a reflection of her age.