Deb Haaland Makes History, and Dresses for It

Forget the pantsuit nation. The Washington dress code is changing, swearing one at a time.

On Thursday, Deb Heland made history when he began his job as Interior Secretary First native american Leading a cabinet level agency. And she did not do so in the recent uniforms of many women politicians – fruit bowl colored trouser suits – but in traditional indigenous dress.

Standing in the Eisenhower Executive Office building next to Vice President Kamala Harris to take the oath of office, Ms. Haland embroidered with imagery of butterflies, stars and corn on a sky blue, rainbow-trimmed ribbon skirt; Moccasins shoes; A turquoise and silver belt and necklace; And dragonfly earrings.

Against the flag and the dark wood, the former Democratic congressman from New Mexico stood, his clothes making a statement of celebration and a formal moment for himself that would be preserved for the record. It was symbolic in more ways than one.

According to an Instagram post from Revaluation, The company that made the skirt for Ms. Hollande’s swearing-in, ribbon skirt reminds of “maternal power”: “Wearing it in this day and age is an act of self-empowerment and a reminder of who we are and others of us.” There is an opportunity to make proud statements in front of people who sometimes refuse to look at us. It allows us to be authentic to us spontaneously. “

This is another pause from the Trump administration’s four years, when the West Wing aesthetic could best be described as the “Fox Wardrobe Department, DC Edition”. Think a primary color sheath or wrap dress, heels, braid hair and lots of false eyelashes.

More broadly, it is a break from the prevailing knowledge about female attire in the corridors of power, which fixed security in dark suits – perhaps with the occasional red jacket for pop. (Male) point looking like the majority who ruled; Being a woman of the company and being a part of the organization. Not any more.

Wearing traditional attire has become a signature for Ms. Hollande during big public moments. In 2016, she wore a classic Pueblo dress and jewelry for the Democratic National Convention; In 2019, when he was sworn in as one of the first Native American members of Congress, he did the same, including a red woven belt that was more than a century old. And in January, at the inauguration of President Biden, she also wore a ribbon skirt, which was yellow in a sun, with a burgundy top and boots.

As he told Emily list On his first day in Congress: “I just felt that I should represent my people. I thought it would make some people proud there. “

Actually, when Ms. Hollande Posted a photo During the inauguration on her Instagram feed (she has 124,000 followers), it was liked over 45,000 times, with many comments praising her dress. To underscore her accomplishments, the accusations are often leveled at a woman politician’s comment on wardrobe choices, but to underline them.

Similarly, after a video prepared by Ms. Haland’s daughter for her swearing-in, began to circulate online on Thursday, users cheered. “Ribbon skirt, moccasins, hair down – Deb Holland invited all ancestors to his swearing-in ceremony,” tweeted a user.

Sherilyn EiffelThe president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called it “my spiritual lift for the day”.

Ms. Hollande is not the first or only female politician to use the dress to express identity at moments of guaranteed public scrutiny, but she is part of a new generation of women in Washington who are increasingly, and deliberately, personal in their choices .

For example, Rashida Talib of the Democratic Congress of Michigan wore a traditional Palestinian Thobe in her swearing-in, and Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota became the first woman to wear a hijab in Congress when elected in 2019.

And although Vice President Harris has adopted what appears to be a sea of ​​dark trouser suits for his everyday work life, the fashion he prefers during the inauguration focuses on the work of young, independent designers of color, The suggestion that he is more than this is the way meticulously calibrated imagery can resonate with the viewer, he is aware of – and is ready to deploy – that tool with the accuracy of calculations.

As Ms. Harris said after Ms. Hollande was sworn in, “history is yet to be recreated.” It is only appropriate to make up for it.


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