Two years ago we ran this story on Nancy Pelosi, then House Minority Leader and now of course House Majority Leader for the second time. It was part of our What’s in Her Closet? series. With the national spotlight shining brightly on her now, we thought a refresher course in Pelosi style was a good idea. Her individual outfits may have changed but not her sophisticated style.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on her way to attend a news conference where House Democratic lawmakers and the LGBT community voiced opposition to Trump’s transgender ban in the military, July 26, 2017. / Photo by Michael Reynolds / EPA / Rex / Shutterstock.
NANCY PELOSI has a tough job and that’s in addition to her role as House Minority Leader for the Dems. Her wardrobe must subtly convey her position of power and authority. With that in mind, we thought we would poke around in her wardrobe and see what pointers we could find.
JANET: This simple knee-length (or just slightly below the knee) sheath plays well for a busy day at the office. The pink ensures she doesn’t fade into the background and it’s a cheery choice for a warm summer day. She’s slightly top heavy, so for balance she elongates her legs with a pair of pointy pale pumps.
NANCY: I think this is a terrific look: Pelosi gets to shed the armor of a suit jacket but in no way does she look the less powerful for it. In fact, I’ve come to think that one of the most powerful female outfits is a slim skirt or dress with those sky-high heels. (I didn’t say comfortable, just powerful.) She has the identical (I think) dress in a vivid green and it looks great too. Fashion folks may have shed their pantyhose on warm days, but on conservative Capitol Hill they’re apparently still a must.
KATHY: It must be terribly difficult for a woman to dress for Capitol Hill. To be taken seriously must you don manly power suits and forget femininity? I think Pelosi has found the solution with this ladylike pink number. Plus pink does wonders for a brunette’s complexion.
JANET: A good lesson on how to do formal. By wearing black shoes and some sort of black stocking with her pants, she doesn’t disrupt the line. Pelosi’s white tunic works two ways: The funnel-shaped collar (a look favored by Brigitte Macron) frames her face, and the verticality of the V-neckline and the side slits taper the top half of the silhouette.
NANCY: I love this look: It’s feminine yet still dignified as suits her office and her age. In fact, it’s rather sporty, albeit in fancy fabrics. The shorter sleeves keep the jacket/tunic from seeming too heavy. It’s a look a lot of us gravitate to naturally, and here’s an excellent example to reinforce that instinct.
KATHY: I love this look too. It’s so elegant, pretty and unfussy. Plus the drape of the tunic takes 10 pounds off and who can argue with that?
JANET: Rolling up shirt sleeves is a studied, casual look and requires practice to achieve. On the other hand, pushing up sleeves on a suit jacket just looks unpolished.
NANCY: I’ve done this with the sleeves of a lined jacket to save a trip to the tailor, but now I see how sloppy it looks and promise to stop doing it. Like most of her male colleagues, Pelosi wears her jackets buttoned when she’s standing (President Trump is the one man in public life who famously does not button his jacket, and it looks bad). But Pelosi has a little too much chest to always pull this look off successfully; in most of the pictures we’ve looked at, her jacket is pulling or gapping above and below the bust, making it seem like she’s wearing the wrong size. Working on the Hill does lend itself to conservative skirt suits and pantsuits, but maybe—note to self—adapting the cut of her evening jacket/tunic in white, above, would be more flattering.
KATHY: I want to like seersucker. I really do. But it conjures up images of panama hats and boardwalks. Yes, Washington can be unbearably hot in August, but this suit simply isn’t cool.
JANET: I don’t like lace much except on tablecloths, handkerchiefs and lingerie. Save head-to-toe lace for the boudoir. And, yes, I know lace is a big fashion trend. I don’t care.
NANCY: I know, it’s been hard to avoid lace these past few years—it’s everywhere, for day and night. But I think this outfit is simple and flattering. It’s obviously for a big awards ceremony, where it’s not over the top. It may not be my first choice either, but I think she looks great in it.
KATHY: I don’t have a problem with lace. It appeals to my inner frou-frou. Therefore, I’m a fan of this outfit. One of the things I like about her evening dress-up choices is the simplicity and ease of the outfits, as in easy to wear.
JANET: Pelosi knows her strengths. Bright colors flatter her. This photo was taken five years ago, but pantsuits—and ones with flared legs—are having their moment today. Wide legs look better with chunky heels than high-heeled pumps. Wear the stilettos with your skinny pants.
NANCY: Here’s the successful version of the Pelosi everyday formula: a pantsuit whose jacket fits correctly without any pulling or gapping, a blouse that cuts through the male-ness of the suit by allowing for a décolleté and simple jewelry, and high-heels that appear feminine but are capable of a powerful stride. Even though this jacket fits well, I still have doubts about always having it buttoned up. I don’t think a woman loses power points by letting it stand open.
KATHY: There’s no ignoring a woman in red. Female journalists learned that covering Ronald Reagan. If they wanted to be called on in press conferences they made certain to wear the red Nancy Reagan made so popular. Red stands out and so does Pelosi in this handsome suit.