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Hillary Clinton meme has legs: how she's spinning her penchant for pantsuits into campaign gold

Hillary Clinton's campaign website offers 'future voter' onesies and trompe l'oeil pantsuit T-shirts

It looks like the Hillary Clinton pantsuit meme has legs -- in the candidate’s own online shop.

The page full of campaign merchandise that went live at shop.hillaryclinton.com Tuesday includes the requisite zip-front hoodies, crewneck T-shirts, tanks, hats and “future voter” onesies, all emblazoned with some version of the stylized H and arrow logo of the Hillary Clinton campaign. But one item in particular caught our attention: “The Everyday Pantsuit Tee,” a $30 raspberry red crewneck T-shirt with a trompe l’oeil print of a three-button, two-pocket, notch lapel pantsuit jacket over a dark red top accessorized with a double strand of white pearls and a campaign pin on the left lapel.

The phrase “Pantsuit Up” is printed on the back of the shirt in white, just below the collar, and the accompanying description includes the following: “Bringing a whole new meaning to casual Friday,” and “Pantsuit bottoms not included. American Made. Union Printed.”

The shirt's existence was announced via the @HillaryClinton Twitter feed early Tuesday morning -- along with a photo. (See the above screenshot.) 

This particular item resonates on a couple of levels. First, it’s a powerful piece of campaign jujitsu that leverages the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state’s penchant for pantsuits -- and the pop culture near-obsession therewith -- into the rare combination of self-deprecating visual punch line and fundraising tool.

Second, and maybe we're reading too much into this, the shirt also seems to have a very subtle “of the people” air to it -- reminding us as it does of those black and white trompe l’oeil tuxedo T-shirts we used to see at Spencer’s Gifts.

Since the shirt has only been available since Tuesday, it’s too early to tell how popular a purchase it will be. But no matter how much money it raises for Clinton’s run, we’re not about to call it a campaign cash cow.

Because we’re pretty sure that, of all the current candidates in the race for the White House, it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont who could make the most hay with supporters by offering a cute, stuffed black-and-white bovine, perhaps with a few stray dollar bills in its mouth.

Ayup, a good, old-fashioned cash cow.

For more musings at the intersection of politics and style, follow me @ARTschorn on Twitter.


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