This is not what I normally write about. Not that it’s not interesting to see how some very high profile women in the news dress, from wardrobe to accessories and all. I actually pay attention to that, wondering to myself where some of them get some of these cool clothes, since I want to look my best but hate to shop and have expensive taste and a low budget. But  now the media are writing about these things, and, talk about expensive taste…

They’re looking at Michelle Obama and Ann Romney.

While the political fashionistas had a field day this week with Ann Romney’s nearly $1,000 blouse, she is not the only presidential candidates’ wife with expensive taste. Despite her penchant for more affordable clothing, first lady Michelle Obama also has a pricey wardrobe.

From Balenciaga and Helmut Lang to Michael Kors and Marchesa, the first lady has been known to wear some big-name, and expensive, designer fashions. Last week alone, Mrs. Obama was spotted in two different L’Wren Scott cardigans, priced between $2,000 and $3,000.


It should be noted, however, that Mrs. Obama is also well-known for boosting sales at the more affordable J. Crew and has been seen shopping at the discount store Target.

Yes, by media given the photo op notice.

But  back to that ABC story

Mrs. Romney’s decision to wear Reed Krakoff’s silk bird-printed design on morning television raised eyebrows earlier this week. The blouse retails for $990. With the state of the economy a key campaign theme for their husbands, both women’s fashion choices will likely be heavily scrutinized in the run-up to election day.

And there’s the point I want to make. That sentence is key.

With the state of the economy a key concern for voters in the US in this presidential election, which makes it a critical issue in the campaigns of both candidates, the media are focusing on their wives wardrobes. And not only that, assuring us that those wardrobes will probably “be heavily scrutinized in the run-up to election day.” Oh, really?

Are the people as concerned about this as the media? Have the media scrutinized high ticket fundraising dinners commanding about $35,000 a couple? Or is that per ticket? Do the 99 percent pay close attention to these things?

No. The majority of Americans are most concerned these days about jobs and prices and finances and paying their mortgages. Even a chunk of the Occupy movement has directed their focus on the SEC and banks and the federal regulatory process.

There’s an extraordinary amount of attention on women this year, a political calculation and strategy. When the administration announced in late January that it was mandating employer-provided insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, the controversy that erupted over its violation of religious liberty was spun into a ‘war on women,’ was was and is ludicrous.

Few media outlets picked up on this.

Women lost out in the jobs market in March, according to an analysis of the latest government figures.

Male participation in the workforce was up 14,000 while female participation fell 177,000, according to the labor department’s latest figures.

“This recovery has not been great for women,” said Betsey Stevenson, assistant professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school…

“I am concerned about what is happening with female unemployment,” said Stevenson.

I am concerned about what is happening with identity politics, gender and racial politics and class warfare. And now with attention fixed on the vice-president and president declaring their “support for gay marriage,” pollsters are doing a brisk business in predicting who benefits politically and what this may mean to the candidates and their support bases.

This is all being used to distract attention from the impact of the economy and its ramifications on Americans of all styles and stripes. It’s a political fashion.

And I’m not buying it, either.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....