Stacey Plaskett, the parliamentary delegate from the US Virgin Islands, entered President Trump’s second impeachment trial with a crucial task: as impeachment official, to help prove that Trump instigated an insurgency on Capitol Hill on January 6 . with people praising her well-crafted argument and comparing the stunning blue dress she wore to a Superwoman costume.
SHEof Clothes of our lives series decodes the clothing choices of powerful women, explore how fashion can be used as a communication tool. We sat down with Plaskett to find out what you’re wearing when the world is looking at you.
At the start of this Senate trial, all those responsible for the impeachment saw themselves as doing our duty to our country. We took this as a service above ourselves. I know it sounds trite, but that’s how we felt as we were getting ready.
The first day people saw me, I was presenting demonstrative evidence – videos, safety clips, tweets, things we found on social media. Having been a former prosecutor, I had a lot of experience presenting evidence to a jury. Then the second time I spoke was during the question and answer period. We had to find all the possible questions that could be asked and come up with answers for all of them. We had to know the facts cold.
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We all felt that we were making presentations not only to these 100 senators and to the American people, but to the whole world. We were showing that our democracy was still intact, that there was a process by which America could rectify its own internal ills, as well as those who tried to try to thwart our democracy for their own interests. It was above all in my mind. I also recognized that I was the only black woman in this room. I had to represent not only women and women of color and African American women, but my community that sent me to Washington. The Virgin Islands have a lot of deprivation of their rights and a lot of inequities. As the impeachment official, I had to uplift them and demonstrate to the world that good things can come out of small places.
When I thought about what to wear for the trial, I knew it was important, but I wasn’t really focused on it. My mom came to New York City from the Virgin Islands in the 1950s and was very focused on fashion. She was a model and spent every lunch hour in department stores, such as B. Altman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Much of my childhood was spent with her in these stores. She had relationships with buyers and always returned the dresses to look at the stitching and the quality of the tailoring. For special holidays, she made us mother-daughter dresses. I ended up hating fashion because it took a long time. I’m embarrassed to say that even now my mom still chooses some of my clothes.
The trial started on a Tuesday and this Sunday evening I got a call from some of my friends that I know from college. They asked, “What are you going to wear?” I told them I don’t know, I guess I’ll get some costumes out of my closet. They said, “This is not an option” and decided that we were all going to meet on Monday. I brought all my clothes and they put my outfits together.
But there’s one thing I always emphasize when giving presentations like this: high heels. It started when I was a prosecutor. I’m six feet tall, and when I was wearing heels and a judge called us to the bench, I could stand there and be at the judge’s eye level, while the defense attorney was usually much taller. low. I had the feeling that when the jury saw this, it gave a level of equality to what I was saying as a prosecutor.
From them, in the face of heated debates, court cases, or serious presentations, I wore high heels. In the impeachment trial, when I went up to speak on the first day, I was the only person who insisted on getting on the podium. I wanted honorable senators to know, in essence, that I was no ordinary person, that what they were about to hear was from someone who is not your average Joe.
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As for the dress, it was very intentional. I don’t usually wear such tight-fitting clothes, but my friends and I had a long discussion about maintaining femininity, I’m 54, and I don’t know how long I’m going to have this body, so I might. you might as well flaunt it before it collapses. They gave me confidence to go ahead and wear a dress like this. I also thought it was a way of subtly thumbing his nose at the dress code because women were told they couldn’t wear sleeveless dresses. That dress, the way the sleeves were cut, when I moved my arms in certain ways, part of the skin was exposed.
When people started to compare my dress to a Superwoman outfit, I was embarrassed. I have this theory that most women see themselves the same way they were in college. In college, I was the goofy, skinny kid in the class, so I’m not comfortable with the attention on myself. It always makes me more uncomfortable that people pay attention to my appearance or my clothes than if people pay attention to my intellect or my presentation.
Losing after the trial was absolutely heartbreaking. We hate to admit it, but after the vote the group shed tears in the back room. But the poll then showed that we did convince the American people. We convinced the world of what the president had done.
I think, but for this trial there would potentially be an opportunity for Donald Trump to run again. But I think because of the testimony presented in the Senate, if he tried to run again, it would be a failure.
We have also shown that the system works. There’s a reason our Founding Fathers created the two-thirds requirement for impeachment, rather than just having a simple majority in the Senate. But I hate that our policy has come to such a place where it is so difficult for senators to discharge their duty to their party. There are senators who have told me that we have made our point and that we have done a great job, and then voted against it. In the end, we felt we had made the right choice. And we fought with everything we had.
This interview has been slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
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