So You Wanna: Spend $150,000 at Saks

Having been on the receiving end of an article assignment that’s either a dream come true or a horrific nightmare, depending, Slate’s Nina Shen Rastogi spent Wednesday afternoon at Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in Manhattan in an attempt to blow $150,000 on designer duds, Sarah Palin-style. (Virtually, anyway: As Rastogi points out, ruefully, “Slate does not have a clothing expense account.”)

The conclusion from Rastogi’s foray into experimental journalism?

Blowing $150,000 in a department store in an afternoon is a lot harder than it sounds. Of course, if my vice-presidential fantasy extended to scooping up some gorgeous but totally campaign-inappropriate Alexander McQueen party dresses and Carolina Herrera ball gowns, that would be a different story. But unless she’s squirreled a bunch of glam formal pieces back to Wasilla, you have to think that most of Palin’s purchases were off-the-rack suits and accessories like the ones I picked out for her. And in that case, coming up with a hefty-enough spending total was a job for a woman far more dedicated to pantsuits and peep-toes than I.

On the other hand, when I got back to the office and looked over the virtual purchases I’d scribbled in my notebook, they seemed somehow puny. Especially when you consider that, by the time the election winds to an end, Palin will have spent nearly two and a half solid months in front of the camera, striving to look polished, professional, and ready to govern at a moment’s notice. A couple dozen suits might seem like a lot to me. But when clothing is your armor of choice, as it seems to be for Sarah, can you ever really have enough?

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.