On her maiden voyage along the vice presidential campaign trail, the wife of Mitt Romney’s newly announced running mate, Janna Ryan, made quite the fashion statement.
Sporting a $70 Dana Buchman dress (now on discount at Kohl’s for $35), the newest addition to the campaign wives’ club commanded attention not for her bold pink floral print but for her fashion frugality.
But while the affordable dress may help Ryan connect with average Americans, the store she got it from may not be as supportive of her husband’s vice presidential bid. Herb Kohl, the former president of Kohl’s department stores, is a Democratic donor and is currently serving in the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.
Ryan’s low-cost (and machine washable!) outfit choice knocks a few zeros off some of the designer digs her fellow Republican ticket wife Ann Romney has been spotting in. Romney made waves in May after wearing a silk Reed Krakoff blouse that retails for $990 during an interview on morning television.
First Lady Michelle Obama has opted for some high-dollar outfits as well. At a White House event in April, the first lady donned a L’Wren Scott cardigan priced between $2,000 and $3,000. And on vacation in Hawaii last December, Obama wore a $950 Comme des Garcons skirt and a $2,000 Sophie Theallet sundress.
Despite these pricey pieces, Obama is also known to rock dresses from affordable Target designers. In February the first lady wore a $40 sundress from designer Jason Wu’s Target line. And during an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno in 2008, Obama said she was wearing a “J.Crew ensemble.”
Campaign clothing can be a sticky issue for candidates treading the line between fashionably professional and modestly normal.
Just ask John Edwards. The 2004 Democratic presidential primary candidate is still living down two $400 haircuts.
The last Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin also caught serious flak over her wardrobe in 2008 after campaign disclosure forms showed that the Republican National Committee footed the bill for a $150,000 shopping spree.
More affordable clothing stores like Kohl’s and Target were nowhere to be found in Palin’s pile of receipts. Instead the 2008 VP candidate spent thousands at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Barney’s in New York City.