"We women really do look very hard at each other." That's how Meryl Streep began her introduction for Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World summit.
Then she invited us to check her jacket – a Sergeant Pepper style complete with long tails limned in pink satin – a stylish if rather costumey look especially good for women self-conscious about their bottom half. I personally wish long tuxedos would come back with a vengeance (Ellen wears them sometimes). Streep seems fond of the Sgt. Pepper look; she wore one here as well, in one of my favorite speeches she gave last year.
We look hard at each other, she asserts, because what we're really looking for is inspiration.
Meryl Streep then compared herself to Hillary Clinton, outlining their similarities and then their differences.
But because she began with fashion, I wondered about that as a point of entry for inspiration. Do we judge other women on their fashion to determine if we would be, could be inspired by them as people?
There are certainly women I admire — Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton being two of them! — although I wouldn't necessarily want to imitate their fashion choices. Meryl Streep, a recent Vogue cover girl, finally got her own Lookbook courtesy of New York magazine, ther ther are looks I can certainly relate to over the years — animal prints, and '80s Big Hair, 2005's suits were lovely...
Conversely there are women whose style I greatly admire, and whose wardrobes I wouldn't mind having, but I wouldn't necessarily want them I as life mentors.
Style & Substance
So is fashion a point of entry into personality? It may be, I suppose, but I don't think it necessarily follows that if you love her clothes, you'll love the woman who wears them, or vice versa.
And that doesn't follow logically – it seems counter-intuitive somehow.
This is not the article I wanted to write. But it is an important point to make. Do clothes really make the woman? Or the woman make the clothes?
Meryl went on to mention how much scrutiny and criticism Hillary has endured for her fashion and hairstyle choices over her years on the public stage. Targeting women's fashion seems like such an easy mark – too easy, just because our "plumage" is more colorful.
As I've said before, you don't hear pundits swiping at men's ties or that they're looking balder than usual. Although, there has been some chatter about Rick Santorum's sweater vest…
But Meryl Streep called Hillary Clinton "the voice of her generation." And I began to think about all the elements of style, of a woman's style that I've mentioned her that go into who she really is … and what makes you want to emulate her
- The sound of her voice
- The warmth of her smile
- Handwriting! And how often it's employed, like thank-you notes
- Manners in general
- The expression of love and care and concern
- Simply being there for other people
Meryl Streep talked about the responsibilities of being a role model – the expectation of being endlessly polite and well groomed:
…being equal parts who you are and who people hope you will be, representing for all women our very best selves."
I actually think that's a lovely standard to hold ourselves to. And doable.
Hillary Clinton called this the Age of Participation, invited us to participate in solutions, and live up to our potential.
We may be wearing different clothes, but there are many women whose style I deeply admire. Many of whom I met this past weekend. And I felt the pull of these exhortations then, and still now.
I so so so want to live up the potential I feel I have, that Hillary is encouraging us to step into. And I don't think I've even come close. Not even close. Which is daunting and a little depressing at the wrong time.
In her speech, Meryl said, "Never never never never never never give up." And Hillary told us to be fearless! It reminded me of Sigourney Weaver's statement that we are by no means done – rather, we are at the beginning. And by gummy (as my grandmother used to say), there is a stylish woman.
Maybe if we can all "role model" for each other, be each other's Meryls and Hillarys and Sigourneys, trade off on who's center stage, be solutions for each other, maybe borrow a jacket or a sweat or a scarf on occasion, we can get to the shining place of our full potentiality faster. And easier. And be living solutions.
It's a lovely model to hold on to.
Watch Meryl Streep's speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECNQDqMoAjw
Watch Hillary Clinton's speech: (end) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Meesh3zFrVo&feature=relmfu