The cat claws are out for Callista, whose own hyper-manicured claws "are folded neatly over her lap, a posture she frequently assumes." She "assumes her signature rigid stance." If she's in any position, it is — in Daily Beast talk — a position she assumes. Because she's just that kind of person, now, isn't she? So entitled.
"From her perfectly coiffed bob to her bespoke power suits, Callista Gingrich possesses a style that evokes a woman who wants to mirror her husband’s wealth and power — and lacks any singularity." She assumes her rigid position — her stance — next to the man, mirroring him, wearing a version of his suit, lacking any personality of her own. Lacking any "singularity." Are you kidding? She's the most distinctive-looking person on the political scene! The bright colors, the sharp edges, the signature hair.
"Heaven forbid she looked slightly mismatched. Mrs. Gingrich seems pleased with herself." Seems pleased. Seems. We're being fair. We don't purport to know what goes on inside the lady's cranium. But check out her "stiff... bob" !"Will we ever catch her with a hair or button out of place?" She's so controlled. That control freak. That rigid woman. Assuming her position. Existing without singularity. Pleased with herself as she mirrors the man.
All the quotes go to a slide show at The Daily Beast, which is based on this article — "Newt Gingrich's Wife Callista's Prissy Style Problem" — by political fashion writer Robin Givhan, though Givhan's name does not appear at the slide show. Givhan's tone is different, analytic and intermittently empathetic:
Mrs. Gingrich’s style has evolved from that of a young professional who looked as if her closet might have been an outpost of Ann Taylor to a woman who has set out to exude wealth, control, and exceptionalism.Exceptionalism... is that anything like singularity, which the slide show told us she had none of.
The unspoken rule of political style: do not tempt audiences into pondering how much mirror time one requires—or indulges in—on a daily basis. ...See how Givhan folds in larger cultural issues?
In contemporary fashion, as well as in politics, style is supposed to look effortless. When effort is apparent, it is damning. It doesn’t matter if a woman takes hours for full hair and makeup, as long as the result looks as if it took only 15 minutes. Imperfection is a mark of modern sophistication, confidence, and youthfulness.
In the broader, contemporary culture, however, her closely tailored blazers, precisely applied makeup, glossy nails, and hair that never requires a glancing adjustment all exude an excruciating prissiness. Her many style tics—stacked one atop the other—read as code for narcissism, self-indulgence, and brittle self-absorption.Givhan isn't really criticizing Callista here at all. She's telling us about ourselves and how we understand the trappings of beauty and fashion.
Callista Gingrich stands out because, like a woman of the 1950s and early 1960s, she is dressing beyond her years. Youthfulness is not her obsession. Control and order are.I'm shocked to read that Callista is only 45 years old. Perhaps she's dressing old to erase the appearance of an age gap in her marriage to a man who's pushing 70.
Style can be used to break down barriers. It can show stature and authority and also exude commonality.Givhan's final judgment — that Callista looks like she lacks empathy — lacks empathy.
But when it is too perfect, too formal, too stiff, it sets one apart. In Mrs. Gingrich’s case, style implies a social hierarchy that, far from exuding empathy, reflects the haughty airs of noblesse oblige.