Three Badass Women on Their Power Uniform

Some of the most influential women of the last year share how personal style plays a role in their fight for female empowerment.

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There are a lot of things that can make a woman feel powerful—her friends, her favorite book, her co-workers, her signature lipstick. None of these are mutually exclusive. But there's a universal truth that speaks to the power of clothing. Just ask these three women, who've made their mark on the world by spearheading the conversation on sexual assault (opens in new tab)championing women's rights (opens in new tab), and fighting for equality (opens in new tab). Women who have worked to better the lives of others in the clothing that made them feel most confident. In fact, one of them did so for eight hours straight wearing four-inch heels (opens in new tab). Now that's badass.

Tarana Burke, Founder of #MeToo

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"I feel strong and ready to conquer the world in all black and a pair of boots. It's completely utilitarian—it doesn't require a lot of mixing and matching and can be pulled together quickly. When I dress up (opens in new tab), I tend to go big with the colors and accessories, but in my day-to-day life, I have so much work to do that I just need to be able to get right to it and not have to think about what message my clothes might be giving off. The black makes me feel strong and the heels give me a little boost of confidence...then I'm off!"

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Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood

"Whenever I have a day that I need to take on a big challenge, I wear a gold pin of my mother's—former Texas Governor Ann Richards—that happens to look a whole lot like a sheriff's badge. It’s a beautiful piece designed by her favorite jeweler, Brian Mikeska (opens in new tab), in Austin. It makes me feel like I can take anything on. And if I need more juice? I add her brilliant blue Hermès scarf. Wearing those two, along with one of my blue suits (like the one I wore to testify before Congress (opens in new tab)), I feel unstoppable."

Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives

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"This month, I was honored to donate my suit and gavel (opens in new tab) from the day I shattered the marble ceiling by becoming the first woman Speaker of the House to the Smithsonian Institution. That day, I said to our daughters and granddaughters, ‘We made history. Now, let’s make progress.’ We need more women to know their power and show their confidence—whatever way that is for them—because nothing is more wholesome to our democracy than the increased leadership and participation of women.

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Rachel Epstein
Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.