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  • Monumental Magazine

Women In Politics Dressing for the Part

By Kassidy McDonald

Fashion assumes an influential role in a politicians’ portrayal and representation, even in our politically-divided society. A thorough analysis of fashion trends and patterns indicates the methods in which these powerful women use style to implement change. They adopt colors and silhouettes in their wardrobe to subtly or overtly honor, support, disapprove or object an idea. However, a focal question about their fashion purposes remains: when are their fashion statements for personal choice, or when are they for a political point?

The following women are contemporary examples of how fashion contributes to politics:

1. Nancy Pelosi

The first woman Speaker of the House is constantly in the media spotlight and under scrutiny, though the publicity popularized her signature style. Beginning with the moment Pelosi was sworn into office, she turned heads with a bright red, three-quarter-sleeve dress. Her bold choice of color displayed her fearlessness and was emblematic of her stance as the first woman to hold her position. Pelosi’s defined style—one that continues to represent her fierce influence in society—includes feminine colors, such as pinks and purples. She incorporates these colors into various pieces, such as pantsuits, dresses, skirts, and coats with polished structure, which displays her versatility. She embellishes these pieces with modest accessories. Her sunglasses and jewelry further substantiate her powerful stance in society and demonstrate the impact of clothing to change the public’s views of political figures.

2. Melania Trump

As First Lady, Melania Trump is bombarded with media attention in the political sphere and serves as a critical figure in the public eye. Trump’s status as a former model contributes to her heightened knowledge of fashion and current trends. However, a slew of controversy surrounds her statement pieces. In 2018, she was criticized for wearing a jacket that said, “I don’t really care, do you?” while visiting a camp for child migrants at the border. Trump combated the negative comments on her outfit by emphasizing her dismay with the media. Trump sends positive messages as well, which she displays while wearing her all-white Christian Dior pantsuit. Its crisp nature serves as a tribute to the women’s suffrage movement, similar to outfits worn by the Democratic women at the State of the Union Speech. Though controversial at times, her chic fashion sense will contribute to her legacy as of the best-dressed First Lady’s in history.  

3. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

As a millennial politician and activist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents an influential political figure known for her fiery spirit and fearlessness. Her wardrobe includes polished and classic pieces, often accompanied with red lipstick. Her decision to use red lipstick is uncommon in the political sphere because of its bold nature. However, she adopts this routine into her style along with pantsuits and jackets with structure and tailoring. Like Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez accessorizes. She wears silver hoop earrings to feminize her pantsuits and adds pops of color through her makeup or jewelry to her classic black or white outfits. Her polished style contributes toward her professional nature, which is vital in the male-dominated race.

4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg uses her role as a US Supreme Court Justice to fight for women’s rights, leaving her with an iconic legacy and prominence unparalleled in society. Unlike Pelosi or Ocasio-Cortez, Ginsburg is often restricted because, as a justice, she must wear a robe. When analyzing her style, she uses subtle accessories to make statements. Her statement necklaces and collars embody her powerful yet feminine style, without becoming too political. Her necklaces and collars can be super edgy, such as the necklace she wears that resembles spikes, or feminine, such as a collar made of lace. Ginsburg often wears a specific collar for important events. For instance, when Justice Brett Cavanaugh was appointed in 2018, she wore an edgier necklace to show her resilience toward the decision. 

5. The White Out

This last segment highlights the Democratic women who wore white during the State of the Union Speech this past February. These women stood in solidarity for the women’s suffrage movement by wearing all white, which demonstrates the impact of fashion on our political sphere. Their solidarity campaigned for equal pay, women’s healthcare rights, and equal protection under the law. Their strategic use of style to make a point made headlines around the country. Although their shade of white varied, their message rang clear.

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