In Washington, the “Worst Dressed List” Might Not Be the Worst Place To Be

There’s always the one, isn’t there? There’s always that one congresswoman who shows up to the President’s State of the Union Address in a bright-yellow suit.

This year’s standout goes to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn). Hailed as the “Hipster Congresswoman” (as so articulately demonstrated by this Buzzfeed article), DeLauro attended Tuesday night’s address wearing an orange leather jacket.

Representing Connecticut’s Third District in Congress for over 20 years, DeLauro co-chairs the Steering and Policy Committee and is a ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. As a feminist, the 70-year-old congresswoman has worked throughout her career to pass legislation to equalize women’s pay, increase the minimum wage and expand accessibility to paid sick days.

So why does it matter what she wore at the State of The Union Address?

It matters because the Washington Post mentioned DeLauro’s outfit choice in two separate stories in its Reliable Source Column. The first article is a general – if not forced – roundup of the fashion seen at the evening’s gathering. The second, titled, “The State of the Union in 6 GIFs,” is a light piece, highlighting some of the more candid moments of the night.

Why the need to fixate on DeLauro’s look? After all, it is no different from what she wears on a daily basis. Have politics become so allergic to self-expression that any time a woman isn’t sporting a black pantsuit or a tastefully patriotic red blazer, she should be chided for nonconformity? Or, has the uniform of Washington become so predictable and dull that style editors resort to commenting on the few pops of color that catch their eye – lest they are forced to write another article on Joe Biden’s facial expressions.

 There wasn’t anything inappropriate about DeLauro’s outfit. Sure, not many people would choose to wear (or even know where to find) a bright-orange jacket but, it seems that this is what the congresswoman is comfortable and confident in wearing.

In a 2013 interview with New York Magazine’s, The Cut, DeLauro defended her style saying, “I’ve always dressed the way I liked to, in clothes that suit me and that are interesting and colorful … But it’s not defining. It’s not who you are or what you’re about. That’s about what you accomplish and what you do.”

And really, isn’t that what it is all about? So, Washington lawmakers, it is time to step up your game. Dress confidently and dare to be “that one congresswoman” or at least give these fashion editors something new to talk about. And, in the meantime, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, you just keep on doing you.

-Grace Aucella

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