First Lady of Mexico Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, wearing the controversial blouse. Photo: presidencia.gob.mx

The Truth Behind the Price Tag

By KELIN DILLON

The lifestyles of the rich and famous have always caught plenty of attention from the media, and their style choices have been no exception.

Magazines have always published the style of public figures, and the rise of social media has exacerbated this tenfold. Innumerable style accounts have popped up across social media channels during the past decade, dedicated to identifying and detailing each and every piece of clothing celebrities and public figures have been photographed wearing. 

Some public figures have such power with their clothing choices that simply being caught wearing a certain item will result in its popularity. Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and other British royal family-adjacents have a reputation in particular for selling out whatever they’re photographed wearing.

The hyperfixation on public figures’ style choices can easily take a negative turn in the press, however, particularly when it comes to the realm of politics.

This holiday season, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, wife of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), caught flack from the Mexican press last week for her styling choice during the couples’ Christmas message to the nation.

Rumors flew across Mexican social media that the tiered blouse Gutiérrez Müller sported for the announcement was a designer piece from Italian fashion house Gucci, retailing for more than 37,000 pesos, approximately $1,850.

Wearing a piece of clothing of such high value was perceived as hypocritical, considering Gutiérrez Müller’s husband has regularly criticized the upper classes in Mexico during his daily press conferences for flaunting their money and using their wealth for corrupt purposes. 

The alleged price tag of the shirt was particularly criticized for the occasion it was worn, as Mexico has suffered deeply economically during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Wearing such a pricey blouse during a Christmas message, one that’s meant to inspire hope for the millions Mexican nationals struggling to make ends meet, would reflect poorly on the presidential couple.

The controversy reached such heights that the first lady defended herself by tweeting a screenshot of website from which she purchased the blouse, revealing the shirt’s retail value to be $70, a far cry in price from the Gucci shirt the media alleged her to be wearing. 

The issue with criticizing the price tag of a public figure’s clothing, aside from misvaluation like in Gutiérrez Müller’s case, is that the public is generally unaware of where these garments are actually sourced from. Even if the optics are abysmal, had the Mexican first lady actually worn the Gucci piece she was alleged to, it wouldn’t be indicative that she herself had bought it. In fact, quite the opposite.

Many people who find themselves in the limelight hire a stylist to help them with their clothing choices. These stylists in turn contact designers, who pull items out of their collections to be worn by their respective clients in the hopes they will be photographed in the press. These items are only on loan, to be returned to the designer after being worn.

The majority of celebrities operate using this styling system. Dresses worn on red carpets are not owned by the starlets they adorn, but are in actuality a glorified rental. This is why many stars seem to have a limitless wardrobe and never wear the same thing twice; most of their clothes are borrowed, and are on a constant rotation. 

Checking the individual price of each item a public figure wears will be inconclusive in determining their wealth as they likely don’t own anything they’re wearing, and on top of that, likely didn’t pick out themselves what they are wearing on any given day.

While it’s undeniable that only the rich, famous or powerful can afford styling services like this, the public’s ignorance of this behind-the-scenes assistance fuels their outrage or adoration of certain outfit choices. 

With a little more clarity, perhaps there can be less controversy.

…Dec. 29, 2020

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