Saturday, October 20, 2007

Style, Iceland Style

Last night I attended a Women's Foreign Policy Group reception for Iceland's Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Gisladottir at the home of Iceland's Ambassador to the US, Albert Jonsson. I noticed her when she arrived because she had on this fabulous outfit.

Iceland Foreign Minister Gisladottir

It may not be your style - I don't have the body type to pull it off, and despite this post's title I realize that not everyone in Iceland has adopted this style either, but she just stood out in the crowd of conservatively dressed Washington women. (Tim Gunn thinks we lack style and are overdue for makeovers. Read his Washington Flyer interview here.) In our defense, many of us work in offices where it's required to wear a conservative, standard issue suit, and most of us had arrived straight from the office. Many of us fear we won't be taken seriously if it's perceived that we care too much about how we look. Remember that New York Times article about how Nancy Pelosi has brought style to Capitol Hill? She practically refused to be interviewed for it and said her husband bought her clothes. Huh.

Ambassador Gisladottir is a serious woman. In her brief talk she described her efforts to secure Iceland a seat on the UN Security Council and her efforts to reach out to African countries. She described herself as a feminist who believes in the positive power of women, and also talked about her efforts to bring together a group of women from the Middle East to discuss that region's pressing issues. Gisladottir's sense of style does not detract from the work she's doing on behalf of her country. My pictures don't do her justice, but she looked great in this coat, cropped pants and heels. We're told to avoid horizontal stripes for the most part, but it worked for her. As Tim would say, she owned the look. Her makeup was subtle and emaculate, hair - perfectly highlighted. She also had on a funky three-stranded rubber and silver choker.

The ambassador's wife, Mrs. Jonsson also looked great in this little leopard print knit dress. It had a fuzzy little halo that must make it a very cozy dress for evening. It's hard to see the front of the belt, but it was about 8 inches wide. The slingbacks were a very subtle bronze metallic that matched the spots on the dress.

Mrs. Jonsson at Women's Foreign Policy Group Event for Foreign Minister Gisladottir

I asked her if she bought it Washington and she just said "yes." (I'm thinking, "where did you get that dress, woman?!!?" and immediately trying to figure out how to knit it. It is a very fine gauge that would require a knitting machine.) I didn't press it. Note to self: make sure that next time the first question is a more direct one and to the point. But you have to admit that most of the time, woman will eagerly to tell you where they got things. I hope that Icelanders do not consider this a gauche question.

It was not a gauche topic for the Spaniard and Italian participating in a project I closed in Seattle last week. Over dinner, Rosa, a Spanish judge and law enforcement official (also a serious professional woman), freely told us about her 70 pairs of shoes that she has neatly organized so that she can wear them all. And Roberto from Italy said his male friends all wanted him to bring back Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts, now all the rage in Italy apparently. In his opinion, A&F t-shirts were not so great for women, so he shopped for his wife elsewhere. Then they got into this huge discussion about how American sizes are so confusing. I didn't take pictures of them and should have done, especially of Rosa hiking up the hilly streets of Seattle in the four inch heels she bought a Nine West!

Back to the reception, an attache from the Swedish Embassy had on a black pants suit with white blouse, accessorized with a black handbag with brightly colored tulips printed on it. Maybe wild accessories are a way to liven up that Washington uniform. We could knit some.


  1. Personally, I love how Europeans dress. They DRESS. It's not just D.C. Suburbia has turned a lot of us into GAP clones.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I think it's a great color for a male, not too boring to drive me out of my mind while knitting it, but not a eye searing as my BIL would normally wear.

  3. Excellent idea for using all of those loose strands for stuffing toys. Thanks for the 'scoop' on the attire of the dignitaries....

  4. I agree, we do need makeovers - i am such a culprit. Whenever I go abroad i promise myself I am going to change the way I dress. Spaniards are so classic, yet sophisticated, and italians are so fashion forward and embrace the womanly figure. Must travel more.



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