Nancy Pelosi: Love Her Or Hate Her, There's No "Ambiguity" About Her Sense Of Style

Nancy Pelosi grew up in a tough Baltimore Italian political machine family, met her husband in a Georgetown summer class about sub-Saharan Africa, had five kids in five years, is presently the most powerful woman in Washington, and is presently loathed by the Clinton campaign, some supporters of which charge — oh for fuck's sake — that she wants to maintain her status as the "senior skirt" in Washington. But there's the thing: Nancy Pelosi wears skirts. She schmoozes and flirts and has a feminine-maternal touch, and she always looks great! The New Republic examines the Clinton/Pelosi fight in its latest issue, plus how Pelosi has been unfairly dismissed as an "airhead" and ineffectual but her crush on Obama has salvaged her stature in the eyes of the DailyKos crowd But, you know, at this hour, I'm here to look at her clothes. After the jump, a short Pelosi photo essay, with some links to information about her outfits. No wonder Charlie Rangel can't resist her!

Of course, being a woman in a testosterone-heavy institution has its drawbacks: As Dick Armey memorably told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002, "One of the reasons Nancy's abilities are not appreciated is that she is a beautiful woman." But possessing the proverbial "woman's touch" is also part of Pelosi's political arsenal, helping her twist the arms of some of Congress's grumpiest old bulls without putting them on the defensive. (A certain Ways and Means Committee chairman is said to be highly susceptible to her charms.) Some colleagues have described Pelosi's tough-love leadership style as "maternal." Others think it flows more from her upbringing. "She just knows how to schmooze these guys," says the speaker's communication director Brendan Daly, who posits that having "five older brothers helps." Barney Frank offers a more pointed analysis: "Nancy is a very smart woman who used to be a very smart girl at a time when smart girls were told that if they were too smart they would scare away the boys." Now, he adds, no matter how tough Pelosi has to be, in private she has "a manner" that helps soothe ruffled feathers. One leadership aide recalls a meeting in which a disgruntled committee chairman threatened to oppose a bill; Pelosi rose slowly from her seat and delivered a low-key but sternly disappointed lecture on the need for chairmen to set a unifying example. (The chastened member wound up supporting the bill.) Emily's List president Ellen Malcolm has dubbed Pelosi's expression in such situations "The Grandmother Look."

Nancy Pelosi: Love Her Or Hate Her, There's No "Ambiguity" About Her Sense Of StyleS

"This look—in fact, the whole maternal role—is key to Pelosi's political identity. Pelosi may be tough, even feminist, but not in the in-your-face '70s way that Hillary Clinton is often associated with. She has never downplayed her femininity and is known for her Armani suits, Tahitian pearls, and oh-so-girly chocolate habit."

Nancy Pelosi: Love Her Or Hate Her, There's No "Ambiguity" About Her Sense Of StyleS

And here she is coordinating scarves with the Dalai Lama.

Nancy Pelosi: Love Her Or Hate Her, There's No "Ambiguity" About Her Sense Of StyleS

And speaking of accessories, look how pretty she looks donning the garb of America's enemies! (The Washington Post's Robin Givhan defended her sarTERRORial leanings here.)

Nancy Pelosi: Love Her Or Hate Her, There's No "Ambiguity" About Her Sense Of StyleS

This Armani pantsuit also elicited a gushathon from Givhan.

Nancy Pelosi, Badass [TNR]