No, this isn’t a political endorsement; I know nothing about her politics. In fact, sadly, I had never heard of her (I know, I know: I should pay attention to these things, but I don’t much) until my friend Deborah Boschert sent me a note with a link, knowing I’d love seeing DeLauro’s outfit for an official photo. Deborah noted that, for us, the way DeLauro dresses isn’t that unusual. “She looks like a lot of women you and I have both seen at art retreats, but it’s certainly unique for Capitol Hill!” It absolutely is, and I LOVE that. So many of us live and work in places where there are expectations about the way we’re supposed to look. Sometimes those are real: if you’re a lawyer or a nurse, a judge or a teacher, there are some rules about what you can wear to work. Here in Midland, Texas, for example, teachers are allowed to wear denim (not just jeans, but denim of any kind) only on Fridays or on special days when they’re allowed to pay $5, just like their students, for the special privilege of wearing, say, a denim skirt. I won’t even say anything about what I think about this.
For others of us, there are no restrictions to our personal style except those we set ourselves. If you work at home or in some fabulously laid-back workplace, you can pretty much create your own personal style. And, alas, that’s where it gets scary. What will people think? What will they say if you go to the post office in a pair of patched and paint-splattered overalls? I know a little about this, living as I do in a very conservative community and looking just the tiniest bit out of the norm. So imagine, please, the self-confidence it takes for Rosa DeLauro, age 69, to show up on Capitol Hill for the official portrait of female legislators, rocking her own style:
If you think it would be tough to go to a PTA meeting wearing a smock you’ve stamped and stenciled, imagine what it’s like to be a public figure who dresses according to your own style, being photographed constantly and, as a result, being ridiculed by everyone who loves an easy mark (and, oh, yeah, you can find plenty of snarky comments online). It doesn’t matter whether or not you love or would wear what she wears; what matters is that here is someone who sets her own style and wears it happily. And for that, Rose DeLauro is my new hero. I hope we see a ton more photos of her and what she’s got in her closet.
Go here to see the Huffington Post piece with more photos of DeLauro’s personal style.
For a little more on this topic, check out Chapter 10: “Living an Artful Life,” in my book, Living the Creative Life.
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