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News Clash

Media That BBQ’ed Ann Romney’s Clothes Costs Gives Michelle a Pass for Designer Duds

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 10.14.02 AMWhen Ann Romney wore a designer T-shirt for a TV interview in May, the media made sure to highlight the price.

“Ann Romney’s $990 T-shirt Is Indicative of a Tone-Deaf Campaign,” blared a Washington Post web headline. “Designer of Ann Romney’s $1K Shirt Says It’s Off the Rack,” reported ABC News. “Ann Romney’s $990 shirt — Worth It?” asked Politico. In June, the media were still buzzing over the shirt. “Her look was rarely more of-the-moment than on CBS This Morning last month, when Mrs. Romney wore a $990 Reed Krakoff blouse emblazoned with an exotic bird that winged its way toward her right breast,” wrote the New York Times. “That turnout provoked criticism, with viewers chiding Mrs. Romney as insensitive to the economic struggles of ordinary Americans and, for that matter, to the prickly issue of her husband’s personal wealth.”

In contrast, Michelle Obama’s designer duds for the inauguration have drawn little speculation over their price. (Some of the pieces were custom-made, so it’s impossible to know exactly how much they cost.) Google “Michelle Obama inauguration outfit price” and the most relevant result is from Enstarz — a tabloid-looking website I’ve never encountered before — which estimates one outfit worn by the first lady was about $10,000. No one else in the media, it seems, is curious about how much Mrs. Obama spent.

But while the exact price of her garments isn’t known, there’s no doubt that some of the designers the first lady chose are hardly ones that most middle-class Americans can afford.

Take the coat and dress Michelle Obama wore, which were designed just for her by Thom Browne. Browne is better known for his menswear — and it doesn’t come cheap. A pair of his jacquard shorts costs $830, while a polo shirt with a whale print is $1,880. If a garishly bright-colored plaid sports coat is your thing, you can get one for a mere $2,500.