When Nancy Pelosi strode up to the podium to announce Democrats would launch a formal impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call, she was not wearing her Twitter-famous square sunglasses and vermillion orange coat.
Instead, the House speaker donned a staid royal blue sheath dress and obligatory flag pin. It was an entirely average outfit for a momentous occasion. The only flair present was a tiny zipper up the front, which left a few online commentators wondering if Pelosi had her midi on backward. (She did not.)
It was not a new look, either. Pelosi wore the frock before, back in January, underneath her winter coat—no, not that Max Mara coat, which went viral after she wore it while leaving a meeting with Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer last year.
Despite public excitement on the left regarding the possibility of impeaching Trump—cheeky recipes for peach cocktails made rounds on the internet this week—Pelosi said on Friday that the investigation “is no cause for joy. This is a sad time for our country.” But she spoke those words on Morning Joe while wearing a baby pink pantsuit, hardly the uniform of a nation in mourning.
Democrats announced their inquiry on Tuesday, and it could take weeks or longer before proceedings begin. Of course not every outfit Democrats wear until then should be scrutinized too closely. But the past few days have been historic, if exhausting, for Americans, and lawmakers are dressing accordingly, with the gravitas this situation carries.
Sometimes, that means ballet-slipper—dare I say millennial—pink, a color which in recent years has come to embody gender-fluidity and cultural shifts. Popular feminists have reclaimed the hue to challenge the notion that girly thing are inherently unserious. Pelosi’s suit shows that a woman can lead one of government’s weightiest responsibilities in soft pastels, thank you very much.
After acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified at a hearing regarding the whistleblower’s complaint, Pelosi held another presser in a pristine white frock with a scoop neck and cuffed sleeves. An undergraduate reading of the look might call it angelic, casting Good Pelosi against Bad Trump. But the Speaker added a crafty, almost homespun element that distracted from her clean posturing—a chunky red and blue necklace.
Pelosi could have been any woman at a Potomac Starbucks ordering her obligatory one Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, but she was accusing one of the most powerful people in the world of orchestrating a “cover-up.”
Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) looked the part, too, on Wednesday. The morning after the inquiry was launched, the freshman lawmaker showed up ready to work in a beige sweater and carnelian jewelry, toting an extra-large coffee cup. She meant business, even if one can practically hear the clanging of her bulky necklace just from staring at her picture.
House Appropriation Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) both injected some flair into the standard D.C. ensemble of red, white, and blue. Jackson Lee wore pearls for the occasion; so did Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
For most of this week, certain (very stylish) sources have been debating the “dream” impeachment outfit. The preferred aesthetic basically resembles a very expensive Elle Woods Halloween costume: pink Chanel tweed skirt, black circle sunglasses, Louboutins, and a very tiny purse. “I will have to take a personal day if Pelosi shows up in that outfit,” I kindly informed them. (Your move, Speaker.)
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where Patricia Field costume designs for politicians. And, really, Pelosi and company would do well to dress reticently, lest Trump's Twitterati come after them for appearing too gilded. As Vanity Fair staff writer Kenzie Bryant wrote, “It [is] not a time to gloat—verbally nor sartorially.”
Yes, Pelosi seems to be outfitting herself very carefully, unsurprising for a speaker who waited approximately an entire ice age to support impeachment.
But her tepid wardrobe—no tiny purses allowed—also shows that during a chaotic and dramatic week, maybe the most ordinary thing she and other Democrats did was peek into their closets and suit up for the day.
Even in, as Pelosi put it, a “sad time,” everyone still has to get dressed. A pink pantsuit never fails to perk things up.