Nancy Pelosi, United States Speaker of the House, has long been a style icon, but during this pandemic, she is not only leading the house, but also leading the mask outfit coordination trend.
Nancy Pelosi is taking the global pandemic very seriously. As the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a congresswoman from San Francisco, Americans, by and large, look to her for guidance, especially in these trying times. For the past few months, she has been encouraging citizens to practice social distancing and wear masks so as to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak. And she is using her wardrobe to get the point across.
After the CDC recommended in late April that all persons wear face coverings while outside of their homes, Nancy appeared on Capitol Hill with her nose and mouth covered. But that’s not why we’re gathered here on this web page today. We’ve come together at this “weird” time to collectively appreciate the fact that Pelosi has leveraged her vast scarf collection to make fashion lemonade out of this sad basket of lemons — each day coordinating her face coverings with her ensembles the way she would a handbag or a shady, message-bearing brooch. If I didn’t know better, I’d call Nancy a French girl because these looks are effortless.
Pelosi seemed to be the first politician or celebrity to embrace the mask, and they are a gentle reminder that clothing can still spark joy during dark times. Even Hillary Clinton, the Queen of the Pantsuit, has commented on Pelosi in an Instagram post: “Leader of the House majority, and of mask-to-pantsuit color coordination.”
Nancy buys almost everything from Donna Lewis, a small boutique in Alexandria, Virginia, that’s popular with women on the Hill. The owner Chris Lewis said they’ve sold 2,000 masks so far and have 2,000 more order requests. Their website has crashed five times.
“It’s the Nancy-effect,” Lewis said. “She wears it, and we sell out. The demand is crazy.”
A transplanted New Yorker, Lewis describes his high-end business named after his wife as “a classic Italian type-of shop, very chic.” The two-story store carries mostly European brands, and is tucked into a picturesque courtyard with ivy-walls.
Their masks are non-medical and made of up-cycled fabric sourced from Venice and Naples. For each one purchased, Lewis donates one to Johns Hopkins Hospital, which is accepting PPE supplies.
They’re hand-sewn by in-house tailors, and take half an hour each to complete. The masks are $22, and have cotton linings and elastic holders. They come in dozens of colors and patterns, including palm trees and flowers. The soon-to-debut summer line (some of which will be set aside for Pelosi) features masks in yellow and red and green Hawaiian prints.
Of course, there are those in Washington for whom a mask isn’t a style statement. Some have worn standard hospital masks and the highly covetable N95 masks, but seeing how personal protective equipment (PPE) is lacking at health facilities across the nation, it can appear out of touch to wear them in front of the cameras when doctors and nurses are making due with scraps.
As far as the White House goes, Melania Trump, for example, doesn’t stray from her medical masks, said a White House official. Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, has been pictured in the media many times in a black fabric mask, which are all made in the United States, said a White House official with knowledge of Trump’s mask habits.
If there’s anything that Nancy has proved to us, day in and day out, it’s that masks don’t have to be the homogenizing, boring necessity, a personal style retardant. Responsible, reasonable adults can wear masks to protect themselves and others and still look both strong, camera-ready, and every bit themselves, all at the same time.