Hillary Clinton’s Armani Jacket Is Not the Problem

In Hillary Clinton’s victory speech after winning the New York Democratic primary, she spoke on many issues. Increasing the minimum wage. Relying more on clean energy. Reforming immigration policies. Fighting employment discrimination for ex-cons who’ve already served their time.

But since Tuesday, all folks have been able to talk about is what Clinton wore. They’re outraged that she wore a possibly $12,949 Giorgio Armani jacket during a speech where she also discussed income inequality. These cries of hypocrisy not only reflect the sexist habit of scrutinizing female politiciansappearances, but dilute a larger discussion of income inequality.

Put aside your opinions on Clinton’s likability, ethics or policies for a moment. Here are a few reasons why focusing on Clinton’s wardrobe at her April speech misses the mark.

Male politicians discuss similar issues in clothes that are also expensive.  

As usual, folks are fixated with female politicians’ appearances much more than men’s. Media have dissected Clinton, in particular, for years on her pantsuits and now seem to be moving onto her new luxury-brand style.

At the same time, custom- or tailor-made suits for men can range from $5,000 to $10,000, according to New York City stylist Rebecca Klein. Take Donald Trump, who tries to project a populist image in Brioni suits, which can cost up to $7,000.

Some say they’re simply arguing that she was wearing the wrong piece of clothing for her message. Yet if we’re going to hold Clinton accountable for her political fashion choices, let’s not stop there. Everyone needs to be held accountable, regardless of their gender.

That the wealthy have better opportunities to run for, and possibly become, president is a larger problem.

Furthermore, if we’re going to make a habit of calling out Clinton’s privilege, let’s talk about economic class in everyone who’s running for or currently president. President Barack Obama’s a multimillionaire. Even celebrated man-of-the people candidate Bernie Sanders has a six-figure income that puts him in the top 4 percent of Americans.

“Wealth has always been a major qualifying factor for the presidency,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, to NPR. “It gives you access to the other rich people who fund campaigns, the status to seek high office, the extra time necessary for an all-consuming quest, and freedom from the everyday concerns that keep most people occupied. Thus has it always been, thus ever will it be.”

Since many presidential candidates benefit from this system of inequality, while at the same time trumpeting the need for empowerment of the middle class, to single Clinton out is myopic.

Talking about Clinton’s clothes distracts from the weight of the problems she’s discussing.

If Clinton was simply giving lip service to improving upward mobility without action, the calls of hypocrisy would be understandable. But Clinton has centered her campaign around issues like raising the minimum wage and increasing income mobility.

Her wealth does not invalidate those problems. Talk of her jacket serves to discredit her as a person, rather to address the task at hand. Income inequality needs to be discussed, without fixation on smaller distractions.

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

156 comments

Jim V
Jim Ven7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

Why is it that it's ok for Hillary to wear expensive clothes but not ok for Republicans to wear them. Ann Romney was vilified for wearing expensive clothes!

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marie W.
Marie Wabout a year ago

Sexist stupid comment.

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Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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jayne turner
jayne Turnetabout a year ago

absolutely. Male politicians never get called on what they are wearing and how much it cost.

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Joan E.
Joan Eabout a year ago

Dan B, the students would benefit most from free college educations, especially the students from struggling families. And so would the entire population because these students from less-well-off families would have a better chance to contribute to our nation's idea pool and economic strength. I am a graduate of one of our nation's great state universities, one of the land grant colleges that were created to "educate the sons and daughters of the working classes," which is what I am, and I'm glad that was there for me. It wasn't free then, but there were low-interest student loans at that time, unlike now. I'd say free is better and can help more students. If someone makes money from it, that's not the end of the world as far as I'm concerned. I care about improving the chances for the young people.

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sharon ogden
sharon ogdenabout a year ago

thanks xxx

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jan b.
jan babout a year ago

No one can remove Hillary's accomplishments and her strength to stand up to a male-dominated GOVT. That the media has resorted to inventing fictional controversies about the Hillary the front-runner for ratings ----is the most sensible explanation I've heard thus far. The democratic women in congress with leaders like Liz Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand ... are bringing women together to encourage and support one another and raising money to level the playing field. With all that testosterone the U.S. ranks 61st globally in maternal health, performing worse than any developed country in the world, according to Save the Children's 16th annual State of the World's Mothers 2015 report. In addition to its poor standing in maternal health, it ranked 42nd in children's well-being and 89th in political status, as measured by women's representation in national government. Gender is important in DC and electing qualified women is necessary to change priorities. VOTE Hillary & we are very close to having more women to take back the senate.

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linda i.
linda iabout a year ago

David, bribing political officials is not free speech, it's bribery.

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