Heard on the Hill: Power to the Purple

I love the ladies over at Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill.  Their column is the perfect way to wake up in the morning if you like a shot of snarky fun with your shot of espresso.  On Monday, they e-mailed to ask me for a comment on the Speaker’s love for her lilac and lavender business suits.  Sadly, I missed the deadline to be a part of the story (drat!). 

As a result of my perpetual bad timing, I thought I would post the text of the column and the comment that I submitted (albeit too late) below.  Feel free to discuss in the comments.

Let’s call it purple power. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a suit of armor, one that she dons both to catch the flash of cameras and to deflect partisan barbs: On high-profile occasions, like Sunday’s passage of historic health care legislation, the California Democrat often sports a lilac-colored suit.

We’ve seen Pelosi’s purple power on display for two recent State of the Union addresses (2008 and 2010). She wore a lilac pantsuit the night that Democrats celebrated their election victory (and majority shift) in 2006.

She sported the signature look in 2007 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed a joint session of Congress and in 2009 at another joint session attended by then-Vice President Dick Cheney in which electoral votes were counted. And more recently, she wore it in April, when she joined first lady Michelle Obama for a ceremony honoring abolitionist Sojourner Truth.

There are variations on the suit: The pantsuit has a notched collar, while a skirt-and-jacket variation has a more rounded collar and trimmer fit. Pelosi usually matches them with a shell top and a pearl necklace.

A Pelosi spokesman informed us that “purple is the color of the suffragettes,” a hint that Pelosi takes her wardrobe choices and their symbolism seriously.

Washington image consultant Sharon Glickman says Pelosi’s sartorial choice is also savvy. Purple connotes royalty, she notes, but doesn’t scream “look at me” the way red might. “I think she’s smart to wear purple,” Glickman says, adding that the Speaker frequently wears Armani. “She has a strong personality … and it softens her a little, but it’s still regal.”

And the color also hints at bipartisanship, even when Pelosi’s words don’t. As we can’t help but remember from elementary school art class, red (as in Republican) and blue (for Democrats) make … purple.

Had I been a bit quicker on the draw with my rapier wit, my comment would have been the following:

“Because I care about the trajectory of my career on Capitol Hill, allow me to say that all Members of Congress, the Speaker included, possess impeccable fashion sense.  These are obviously the 535 best-dressed people in America.

“As for the choice of purple, we can only hope that the spirit of bipartisanship will appear in the Chamber as frequently as the Speaker’s trademark lavender suits.”


    leave a comment

  1. Ms. B says:

    LOL….and laughing some more. Bi-partisan Purple. From your lips to the vote.

    March 24, 2010/Reply
  2. District Cut says:

    LOL! What a perfect politically correct response. And this is why I love ya Belle.

    March 24, 2010/Reply
  3. Christina@StyleofPolitics says:

    Wow, Belle. You have a lot more restraint than I do! Couldn’t let that "suffragettes" claim fly by:

    Clearly, my own Hill career is doomed!

    April 2, 2010/Reply