My brother has lived in Alaska for 30 years. He was, in fact, mayor of a small town up there for several years. When the news hit the fan last week, naturally I e-mailed him, as did our siblings.

We all got the same answer: He loves Sarah Palin.

We weren’t surprised: he’s the family’s only Republican.

He believes she’s done wonders for the state and her pioneer spirit should be an example to the rest of the country. She’s fought corruption and the big oil companies. She’ll go to Washington and whip that place into shape in no time.

But one member of our family posed the critical question: open-toed shoes on stage? What does that say about her judgment?

I’ve got to admit that I’m always interested in what people in the limelight wear. There’s an idiot fascination to watching the Oscar red carpet just for the outlandish and down-right ugly get-ups into which are crammed half-naked movie stars of all sizes and ages.

So when Sarah Palin was about to make her big acceptance-as- vice presidential-nominee speech I wondered, among other issues, things like Iraq, the economy, health care and the energy crisis, what would she wear? I expected one of those bright red, matronly Republican dresses that don’t look good on anyone except Laura Bush and that’s only because everybody loves her. But Sarah looked great, not flashy, not dowdy. The hair could have used a nice professional trim, but on the whole she looked good. After months of the pant-suit rainbow, it was nice to see a little leg.

Cindy McCain’s opening-night dress for the convention, reportedly cost $3,000 and looked very nice. Not worth that kind of money, but nice. She has the kind of body that anything looks good on, but, again, the hair. The hair makes me crazy. The color hurts my eyes and she needs a good professional shaping to get rid of the Barbie look. Barbie just doesn’t make it with Oscar De la Renta.

I remember when Francesca Lodge, wife of the governor of Connecticut at the time, wore a dress made from an American flag that made her look like a circus clown. She had bad hair coloring also, as I recall.

I’m frequently puzzled by the choice of clothing some of the newscasters favor. Katie Couric who makes about a million bucks a minute, often looks like a wedding attendant, dressed in an outfit selected by a sadistic bride. And her make-up brings back memories of the Munsters. With all that money wouldn’t you think she could hire some one to advise her on those things? Some of the Boston network anchorwomen look like they step inside their closet each morning, knock on the wall and come out with whatever falls on them.

In my book the only women who consistently wear just the right thing with just the right accessories, and just the right haircut are Condoleezza Rice and Queen Elizabeth II.

The guys have it so easy.