While pundits were chuckling over whether President Obama’s tan suit — the one with its own Twitter account and hashtag (#YesWeTan) — would make an appearance at the State of the Union address, there was a clear fashion shift for women at #SOTU.
It’s no secret that Washington, D.C. has never been a town known for its fashion taste — the gals here prefer sneakers or sensible shoes to get to the office, keeping their heels stashed under the desks for maximum wear, and those lovely suits with the shoulder pads that never seem to wear out.
We’re a serious town, but we’re not so serious about fashion.
Well, until recently, that is. Hillary “maybe I’m running, maybe I’m not” Clinton seems as if she’s given her rainbow pantsuits the heave ho for more one-of-a-kind outfits in subdued colors and statement jewelry — what could be more befitting a possible head of state?
So could capital “F” fashion be a real thing in this swampy town? If some of this year’s State of the Union choices are examples, the good news appears to be “yes.”
Usually Michelle Obama opts for classic and non-controversial options like her J. Crew favorites, but at SOTU she was channeling her inner Good Wife in a suit that was definitely sending a power message. Maybe not a steely one that Alicia Florrick would make in her life, but definitely a shift from Michelle’s “mom-in-chief” garb.
Jill Biden won the “cutting edge” award with her dress, with a statement we’re assuming was something along the lines of “I can be serious and have fun at the same time.”
Maybe there was something in the D.C. water, because Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Gisnburg was rocking some serious Madonna fishnet gloves.
And newly sworn in Senator Joni Ernst was sporting a pair of camouflage pumps, whose statement had to be something like, “I was a combat veteran, so even though I’m wearing a skirt and hose, don’t mess with me.”
Why should we care about any of these clothing choices? Because while we are talking fashion, these shifts are about power armor in a town that knows and respects power. Clothing that sends a “don’t mess with me” statement looks like it’s on the rise, at least on Capitol Hill, and I say it’s about time. We should be happy these women are in some small way stepping away from the traditional uniform of ladies’ suits consisting of a black skirt and a blazer of some bright color.
None of them are channeling Olivia Pope, of course, but they could be on their way.
Joanne Bamberger is an independent journalist and journalism entrepreneur who is also the author of the book Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. She is the founder and publisher of the The Broad Side. Joanne is at work on a forthcoming anthology about Hillary Clinton. You can find Joanne on Twitter at @jlcbamberger. Also, follow The Broad Side on Twitter at @The_Broad_Side and on Facebook!