There are many things I would ask a young woman planning on attending the pro-Trump, creepily titled “AmericaFest,” which will be thrown by Turning Point USA this weekend. First off, why would you willingly put yourself in a room with Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people and injured a third at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is now considered a conservative hero?
And what does America have to celebrate during a week that’s seen an ominous boom in Omicron diagnoses, plus the somber marking of 800,000 dead from COVID? And if this conference is indeed, “the largest celebration of our constitutional rights and freedoms,” as its website pledges, why do you want to kill Roe v. Wade so much?
But it seems that Turning Point USA, the student group that hosts this celebration of authoritarianism, has another question for those in attendance, one that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched E! Live From the Red Carpet: “What are you wearing?”
Yes, it’s time for those in attendance to pack the suitcase they’re bringing to Phoenix, Arizona, where they’ll see speeches from Rittenhouse, Donald Trump Jr., Tucker Carlson, Kayleigh McEnany, Candace Owens, Jesse Water, and Charlie Kirk. The organization’s blog has published a few shopping stories highlighting what to bring.
And the blinged-out Americana pieces look a lot like what I would’ve worn to Kesha’s 2011 “Get Sleazy” tour, if I hadn’t blacked out beforehand after drinking boxed wine.
“It’s a very ‘business in the front, party in the back’ scenario since you’re listening to the top speakers in the conservative movement during the day and partying with your favorite country artists at night,” Alex Clark, the host of a daily show on Turning Point USA’s Instagram and podcast pages, wrote in a blog post.
Jeans are allowed for women, though, which is remarkably progressive for a group that wishes to drag us back into the 1950s. “Since whole families will be coming and there is the concert element, you are free to dress more casually as long as you look appropriate!” Clark wrote. “Nothing too immodest, and I wouldn’t wear straight-up sweatpants or pajamas, but feel free to showcase your best southern or western-inspired outfits!”
Clark added that “personally” she’s going for a “glam-Western vibe.” I prefer to call it, “White Lady Complaining About Mask Mandates at City Council Meeting chic.” In a series of graphics, Clark rounded up some outfit ideas: a $25 fringed denim jacket from Forever21, $148 leather jeans from Lulus, and $309 flag-printed boots from Old Gringo. There’s even an $890 girlboss-meets-Easy Rider fringed jacket from Revolve. I’m not sure what teenager has that kind of money to drop on an outfit, but I’m guessing they’re probably not fans of a wealth tax.
Kendall Jones, an “influencer in the outdoor industry” who “works to spread the word of conservation and to educate the public on hunting, the 2nd amendment, and the outdoor lifestyle she lives on a daily basis,” also wrote a blog for Turning Point about her fashion choices for the event, titled “Packing for AMFEST: Girl Edition.”
Jones posted photos of outfits she wore to past events, which included a leather miniskirt covered in stars, black T-strap boots, and a belt made by the famous American brand Gucci.
One commenter on the blog post was not so into the styles, though, writing, “Why do Conservatives follow the very worldly trend of wearing as tight and revealing clothes as possible? What is being ‘conserved’ by this? Shouldn’t we strive to create a community where virtue and purity are honored?” No one responded.
Andre Soriano, the pro-Trump fashion designer best known for the “Make America Great Again” dress Joy Villa wore to the 2017 Grammys, will also serve as a “TPUSA Ambassador,” and has been hyping up the event on his Twitter and Instagram feeds. “Fashion, Glamour, Music and World Leaders!,” Soriano promised in a tweet last month.
He also posted a photo with Rep. Lauren Boebert, who earned a Trump endorsement after she made an Islamophobic remark about congresswoman Ilhan Omar, writing, “So excited and can’t wait to see Our Amazing Congresswoman.”
And then there is TPUSA’s own merch store. There, one can buy a $30 black baseball cap that says “let’s go Brandon,” because of course that would exist. (One wonders how those cut into sales of the granddaddy of them all, the red MAGA hat.) The site also features a slew of hoodies blazed with phrases like “Be the Rich” (instead of taxing or eating them, one presumes), “Stop Censoring Conservatives,” and the word “Coexist,” except the “o” is a gun target. All very normal stuff.
Amy Coney Barrett gets the “Notorious RBG” treatment, with T-shirts that celebrate her in the same way embarrassing liberal women loved slapping the late Supreme Court justice’s face over everything from wall murals to prayer candles. A cartoon of Barrett gets to wear a little crown with the initials “ACB” on it. (This might not be working the way Turning Point intends it to, as the abbreviation is one letter away from “ACAB,” or “All Cops Are Bastards,” which is a much more familiar phrase seen all over protests against police brutality last year.)
Turning Point USA’s Conference begins on Saturday, Dec. 18.