The Internet spun into a rage Tuesday over the fact that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, wore a $12,000+ Armani jacket during a speech in which she addressed income inequality. For someone reported to be incredibly media savvy and calculating, it’s not great optics. But as other attacks on Clinton—likely the first female nominee for president of a major U.S. party—go, this is less substance and more double-standard.
To recap, Clinton wore an Armani jacket priced at $12,495 during a speech in April in which she addressed economic issues, saying “We all know many people who are still hurting. I see it everywhere I go. The Great Recession wiped out jobs, homes, and savings, and a lot of Americans haven’t yet recovered.” Twitter users made their dissatisfaction known.
Meanwhile, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, promises in speech after speech to “make America great again” (it’s even on his hats!) and to bring jobs back to the U.S—yet he prefers to wear Brioni suits and shirts (Italian, up to $17,000), while many of the suits and ties that carry his own label are made in China (and as Andrew Kaczynski detailed over at Buzzfeed, many of his other favorite brands are also foreign). So, Clinton cannot wear an expensive jacket and talk about income inequality, but Trump can threaten to ban immigrants from entering the U.S. and claim “jobs and factories will stop moving offshore and instead stay here at home” while profiting from apparel made in China and sporting high-end Italian suits.
Of course, image in politics is important, and men face their fair share of criticism (see Barack Obama’s mom jeans and tan suit, Donald Trump’s hair). But Clinton has long dealt with criticism about most everything she wears, how her hair is styled, how she looks—never mind the sound of her voice. The Huffington Post even has a tag on its website titled Hillary Clinton Hair. And of course, there have been no shortage of opinions expressed on her scrunchies and pantsuits.
In 2011, Tim Gunn, host of Project Runway, said on George Lopez’s talk show, “Why must she dress that way? I think she’s confused about her gender!” Rush Limbaugh, radio commentator, said in a 2007 segment entitled Does Our Looks-Obsessed Culture Want to Stare at an Aging Woman, “Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she’s getting older.”
This election cycle, the same old insults have sprung up. Trump certainly doesn’t shy away from using the woman card against Clinton. “‘Do I look like a president? How handsome am I, right? How handsome?” he said in April. “Does Hillary look presidential?”
To be fair, Trump applies the double standard female politicians (and females in general) face to women of his own party equally. Take this quote from Trump, in Rolling Stone, in reference to former GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina:
The criticism of Clinton comes during a race where she has continually been blasted for not being relatable enough, and then pilloried for trying to be relatable. Had she worn a $20 Target dress, would that have made a difference? Or would she instead be ridiculed for trying to be one of the people?