Hey Big Daddy,
So what are St. John Knits? I keep hearing that lots of high-powered women
from both political parties like to wear St. John Knits, and that this means
they are making a special fashion statement peculiar to the Capitol. I
looked up St. John Knits’ on the Web, and saw haute couture models with
skinny hips and pouty lips, but nothing about politics. So what gives?
– Irked in Irvine.
St. John Knits are female power suits popular among Junior Leaguers, and the
statement they make to me is this: I’m Republican, repressed, ambitious,
willing to spend good money on good clothes, worried about my appearance and
enjoy being spanked occasionally, but not too hard.
St. Johns Knits are to women what suspenders are to men – Republican fashion
101. That’s not to say that St. Johns or suspenders are uniquely the
providence of the GOP. There are plenty of Democrats who wear the smart
suits, or the suspenders. But then again, there are plenty of Democrats
working for Gov. Schwarzenegger, so go figure.
But make no mistake: When a Dem dons a St. Johns, she’s dressing against
type–like Danny Devito playing the leading man alongside Angelina Jolie.
That said, many left-leaning women have opted to rage against the
stereotype, and make the St. Johns their own. In those prim and proper
knits, they are thumbing their noses at a beloved symbol of the monied
Big Daddy, of course, is no stranger to high fashion. In his heyday as
treasurer–I love writing in the third person–he dressed like a Republican
banker in costly suits and power ties. But nobody was fooled, despite the
cool threads: Big Daddy was the self-made son of a Texas sharecropper.
One of Big Daddy’s friends, summed up her approach to this type of
thumbing-your-nose contrariness. “It’s like when I wear my red stiletto
heels to Berkeley,” she says.