political style

Sarah Palin’s Stylist Outs Herself

Sarah Palin was said to have hired a secret team of stylists to dress her during the presidential election. They were supposedly responsible for Palin’s scandalous $150,000 campaign-wardrobe bill that undermined her folksy image and the entire McCain campaign. However, Palin didn’t technically hire a team — she just hired one woman, Lisa A. Kline, a 47-year-old Manhattan-dwelling mother of three who specializes in dressing news anchors and corporate types. She decided to out herself in the Times today because she wants people to acknowledge what a great job she did.

“I want people to see that I did the best job I could under crazy circumstances,” she said. “I want people to say, ‘Wow,’ you know, ‘Not bad.’ ”

Kline said what Palin writes in her book, Going Rogue, about the wardrobe scandal is true: Palin herself didn’t have the idea to hire a stylist, many clothes were never worn, all items were returned, and the Palin family didn’t go on any shopping sprees themselves.

Kline would not reveal how she got the Palin job, but explained that she was called three days before the Republican National Convention and asked to dress her. This was the Friday before Labor Day — the first day of the convention — leaving her no time to call in clothes or get them at a discounted price directly from the designers. So she had no choice, she explains, but to go shopping in stores and pay retail prices.

Being a stylist, she naturally gravitated toward Saks and Barneys, where she bought a decent amount of stuff. But then on Tuesday, someone in the McCain camp realized Sarah wasn’t the only Palin who needed wardrobe help. Kline was asked to get clothes for the entire family, including husband Todd, sons Track and Trig, the baby, pregnant daughter Bristol and her boyfriend Levi Johnston (oh, the irony!), and daughters Willow and Piper.

Kline doesn’t remember who asked her to do all that, but faced with an impossible styling mission and less than 24 hours to pull it off, where Rachel Zoe would have undergone a violent bout of vertigo she again turned to retail. She went with one assistant to Neiman Marcus the morning of the Palin family’s national debut (the store opened specially for her at 7 a.m.) and bought everything she needed in 90 minutes, which is pretty impressive.

Of course Kline picked out the designer stuff. She’s a fashion person, and a fashion person — even when dressing a political candidate who’s supposed to be just like an average American — doesn’t go to T.J. Maxx when they’re in a pinch. Fashion people don’t live in a world of average Americans — they live in a world of expensive things and fabulousness! Sarah Palin had a taste and ran with it without carefully considering the consequences. Designer labels are a powerful thing.

Kline said no one in the McCain campaign questioned what she bought, though Palin politely declined to wear things that weren’t her style. After the convention, Kline didn’t see Palin. She left her with a look book of outfits so she could dress herself for her coming events. Palin stuck to the plan until the $150,000 bill was revealed, everyone freaked out, and she had to go back to her less exciting, average clothes.

Only Palin’s Stylist Knows for Sure [NYT]

Sarah Palin’s Stylist Outs Herself