The Answers Issue: Why does Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton always have on that ugly, fire-engine red lipstick?

Why does Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton always have on that ugly, fire-engine red lipstick?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ugly? If you ask us, D.C.’s non-voting delegate to Congress wears ruby-red lips like a woman who’s serious about looking good. In an interview for her biography Fire In My Soul, Norton explained that during her college days, “We were very grown and yet in some ways very childlike…I didn’t wear any lipstick or any of those things that would have made me more attractive and attractive I was surely not.” Norton graduated from college in 1960 and then attended Yale Law School at a time when full makeup was de rigeur for most women. Moreover, law was and remains a conservative profession where women agonize over everything from necklines (how low is too low?) to pantyhose (how sheer is too sheer?) to, certainly, makeup. Kat Griffin, who writes the lady-lawyer fashion blog Corporette, says, “If you wear little to no makeup and suddenly add a red lipstick, it immediately dresses you up, adds color to your face—great for photographs, also—and yes, conveys a bit of authority as well as femininity.” As for what color graces the delegate’s lips, her office treats the shade as a state secret. But the easy money’s on Estée Lauder’s “Rich Red.”

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