NY Times Praises Pelosi's Politicized Mask Wear, But Ivanka Looked Like 'Movie Bank Robber'

May 22nd, 2020 12:04 PM

New York Times fashion reporter Vanessa Friedman paid homage to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s politically powerful...facemasks? in the Thursday Styles section, “The Many Masks of Nancy Pelosi,” complete with five photos of Pelosi in masks which were color-coordinated with her scarves and outfits (click “expand”):

Late last week, as she was leading the charge to push the Democrats’ $3 trillion pandemic relief package through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi strode the floor of the Capitol in a fuchsia pantsuit, red pumps, white shell -- and a coordinated red, white and green cherry-print face mask.

This was the day after Ms. Pelosi had stood at a podium for a news conference in a black dress with a complementary dark green and white foliage-print face mask -- which was itself not long after she had appeared in a shell-pink pantsuit with a matching shell-pink mask.


And though it would be easy to categorize Ms. Pelosi’s masks as fun! and all about self-expression! and -- yes -- fashion!(as many style watchers have done), her track record and the way her approach contrasts with those around her suggest something more nuanced -- though the stratagem is covered, natch, by the accessibility of patterned cloth, the kind we all have to wear and to which we can all relate.

After all, why simply don a face mask when you can also use it to make a political point?

Indeed, the sheer variety of her masks stands out like a beacon amid her sea of aides in generic white or blue medical masks and her dark-masked protective detail. It suggests a commitment to consciously choosing a mask every single day that, more than simply demonstrating good mask habits, civic awareness and solicitude for those around her, or even support for small businesses, demands attention....

While Pelosi was praised, Ivanka Trump was predictably mocked.

[Ivanka] wore a black mask with a black jumpsuit to tour a Maryland produce distributor last week (though that mask had the effect of making her look unsettlingly like a movie bank robber, despite the little American flag pin on the side)


But no other elected official has embraced the mask with as much relentless and considered eye-catching range as Ms. Pelosi.

In this her resolve is fully in line with the Speaker’s approach to image-making, which has always involved every tool at her disposal, be it a clapback at the State of the Union or her Speaker’s mace pin. She understands that there are ways to make herself and her positions heard even when she isn’t saying anything at all....

Their conclusion? Pelosi is queen: “And thus, Nancy Pelosi, master of the statement coat, canny strategist of the suffragist pantsuit, has also become the leader of the masked opposition.”​​​​​​​

Friedman was not nearly as complimentary of the renegade Democrat candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who in November 2019 resembled a fringy “cult leader” in white (Hillary Clinton’s choice to wear white when accepting the Democratic nomination was by contrast, “supremely unflappable: perfectly tailored and in control.”