Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fey wears leather as Palin, but you don't have to

I suspect by now that everyone saw Tina Fey's appearance on SNL last night as Sarah Palin, but if you missed it, here it is:

She's recreating a Palin look from last month at a McCain rally, featuring a black leather motorcycle jacket. We've seen Palin in leather before, most memorably in a red fitted jacket during the 2008 campaign. Although I've said before that Palin's stylist made some serious missteps in the labels she chose for her client, for Palin, leather itself was an appropriate choice. She looked good, the jacket was on trend, and of course we know how much our leaders love red. Although this more recent jacket was perhaps not as successful from a style perspective, mostly because of the mash-up of jewelry that accompanied it, I see no reason why Palin shouldn't continue to include leather selectively in her wardrobe. The trend isn't going anywhere, and for her it provides sartorial support for her pro-hunting stance.

Palin isn't the only one grabbing headlines with leather lately. Rosa DeLauro's pink leather jacket got a lot of attention during the health care vote, as only one of several Congresswomen wearing leather in March. This trend is prominent on both sides of the aisle.

Although the Humane Society Legislative Fund gave DeLauro a perfect score on their most recent report card, she apparently hasn't made the leap yet to removing leather from her wardrobe, the way her House colleague Jared Polis has. But what if she decided to take leather jackets out of her wardrobe? There's no reason why she couldn't still incorporate the motorcycle jacket trend into her look. She (and you) would have two options:

1. Faux leather. This idea has something of a bad rap, and to be sure, there's a lot of ugly vinyl out there. You do have to choose carefully, but finishes and textures of faux leather have improved dramatically in recent years, and it can often be hard to tell the difference.

That difficulty in telling the difference, though, could leave you with some problems. If the point you're trying to make is not to wear leather, then wearing something that looks so much like leather could at best go unnoticed and at worst leave you needing a press release to explain your jacket every time you wear it. Which leads me to...

2. Other materials. Motorcycle-style jackets come in a wide variety of materials now, creating a look at least as chic as the original leather designs. And in the case of cotton and linen, these can be light enough to wear well in to the spring.

Both of these alternatives also have the added benefit of being significantly less expensive than leather, which leaves some of your budget for other investments.

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