Is the Left More Hip Than the Rest of US?

June 16th, 2009 11:58 AM

Washington, DC is considered more hip whenever the power balance shifts to the left.  I didn't say that - Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post's Reliable Source column said it.  Wow!  WaPo writers acknowledge that the snoberati equate hipness and style with leftist politics. 

"Our examination of the evidence suggests that his [Obama's] influence on the city's cool/host metrics may be overstated," the duo report.  They then give as evidence a little snapshot of city hotspots, star presence, fashion, and reality TV. 

Count me impressed that WaPo writers question the whole "left is hip" zeitgeist.  My only quibble here is that the Reliable Source suggests that people in DC no longer wear running shoes with pantyhose to work.  Clearly, they are not on my bus or train route.

Anyhow, today's WaPo Style page also, coincidentally, features a column by staff writer and Pulitizer Prize winner Robin Givhan commenting on a prestigious style award bestowed upon Michelle Obama by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. 

Part of the ongoing Obama-worship, you may have noticed, is the widespread fawning over the First Lady's sense of style - how it's so "modern" and "accessable."  And Givhan herself has penned a number of columns praising Michelle Obama's style.  That's actually not surprising, since Givhan has long taken the fashion industry to task for not presenting many models of color in advertising and on the runway and for not presenting many 5'9"-and-taller models who are above garment size 2. 

However, I am still not sure what all the fuss is about - is it political rapture or genuine admiration for a woman who adroitly pairs expensive fashion with The Gap?  True, Obama looks youthful, vigorous and well-turned out, but I'm not sure she stands out from most previous First Ladies.  And she certainly isn't what one might think of as fashion-forward, a la Jacqueline Kennedy. 

As Givhan herself acknowledged, Obama appeared "fashion neutral" in her video appearance at the fashion award event.  "She wore a plain white shirt and a double strand of pearls." Hardly the sort of thing to have "the fashion industry breathless." Right?