By now we all know the tale of socialist Cinderella, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez hitting the Met Gala red carpet to hobnob with the wealthy and powerful in a pricey couture gown emblazoned with the phrase, “Tax the Rich.“
If it was a sartorial effort to show solidarity with her working-class constituents, it only seemed to get “yas kween” snaps from the fancy people inside the fancy museum.
Enter Kyrsten Sinema who basically said, “hold my Keystone Light… and Marlboro Reds.”
This week, the 45-year-old presided over the Senate in a denim vest, looking like Ponyboy’s long lost sister who made manager at JC Penney. It was neither sophisticated nor particularly stylish.
But it showed what the producers of “Roseanne” knew years ago: people like a little working-class grease. And believe it or not, that vest was a lot more relatable to a larger swathe of the country than the elitist gatekeepers would let on.
Hey, if you’re gonna virtue signal with clothing in the midst of an increasingly tense standoff over a trillion dollar proposal, at least shop at the mall, not the floor at Bergdorf where you need a credit check just to enter.
The Democratic senator from Arizona has always held her cards close to her vest, and that has long been a great source of frustration and anger from her party colleagues. The fact that her vest this week was denim, and not crepe or perhaps a nice wool blend, sent the left into a Joan Crawford wire hanger level meltdown. (Think Obama’s tan suit on steroids.)
Especially now as she stands firm in her opposition to Biden’s gazillion dollar, no cost Build Back Better plan.
The sleeveless denim number was red meat to her political rivals and the fashion police as jokes and criticisms spread on social media. CNN contributor and political commentator Ana Navarro tweeted that only a white girl could get away with wearing such a thing and be taken seriously, much less get elected. It was a strange criticism because no one was letting her off the hook for it, least of all Navarro.
While disgraced former Congresswoman Katie Hill, who has shown a strong aversion to clothing all together around staffers, tweeted: “I hate to go after Sinema for her clothes when there’s so much legitimate stuff to attack but that vest is truly awful.”
Ironically, Hill has also been vocal about the “sexist” pressure put on female candidates to have the right clothing to be taken seriously.
Fashion remains a main feature of life in Washington, DC. First ladies (with the exception of Melania Trump) and female politicians with the D attached to their names have all but replaced models and starlets in the pages of Vogue. And there is legitimate analysis of style inside the Beltway and how the power of image is wielded.
Sinema should not be exempt from that. Especially since her threads are often the loudest in the room and a study in contrasts.
She has worn candy-colored wigs favored by cosplayers, 1950s style dresses and coats with a vintage feel that would suggest she’s a Stepford wife and over-the-knee boots once known as “f–k me boots.” She is a classic over-accessorizer pairing her chunky glasses with statement earrings and Wilma Flintstone beaded necklaces (pick one, please).
What is she telegraphing? Well, her style, just like herself, is silently screaming that she’s a complete and utter wildcard guided by an inner conviction. She doesn’t care about your rules, nor the expectations placed upon her by party or partisans.
Or as writer Stephen Miller, one of my favorite Twitter follows, often says, “she’s naughty.”
Sinema remains an enigma, sometimes wrapped in some very questionable clothing. While her contemporaries are hitting social media, doing Reddit AMAs and streaming themselves doing mundane household tasks, she is a closed book. And nothing is more intriguing — or infuriating, depending on your side — than people who don’t give it all away.
Yes, AOC looks glossy and always polished. But Sinema knows how to dress for a bottle-breaking bar brawl at the Double Deuce, and in a fighting town like DC, I’ll put my money on the denim vest any day.
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