Cassidy Hutchinson’s Subtle New Style

After Cassidy Hutchinson’s history-making testimony before the Jan. 6 committee last June, threats to her personal safety compelled her to leave Washington, go into hiding and eschew all public appearances. Now she’s back, in a big way, publicizing her new memoir, “Enough.” And for her book tour, Ms. Hutchinson has been refining her style.

On camera during her testimony, Ms. Hutchinson’s style was muted and tailored (she wears the same look on her book jacket). A blowout, blazer, fitted black pants and black top, tiny circle diamond necklace, and a white manicure. Her Zara jacket was white, too — a color associated with purity, the suffragists; the color of the Capitol building that had been breached and sullied on Jan. 6.

That structured, buttoned white blazer allied Ms. Hutchinson visually with the Capitol. White also suggested that Ms. Hutchinson was turning over a fresh page, moving away from Trumpworld (and the President Trump-affiliated attorneys who’d encouraged her to answer questions with “I don’t recall”), and offering the committee her full cooperation — total candor. The word “candor,” in fact, derives from a Latin word for “whiteness.”

When Ms. Hutchinson resurfaced on “The Rachel Maddow Show” this September, her outfit recalled her look of last spring — but with notable differences. This time, while she spoke of her ongoing loyalty to the Republican Party (calling herself a “moderate Republican”), her blazer was of brightest blue — a potential nod at least to the other side of the aisle. Beneath that jacket she wore a drapey, low-neck top of high-gloss white silk. The blouse’s high-sheen fabric and cut added glamour, suggesting a new, more relaxed stance and ease in the spotlight. And Ms. Hutchinson did seem more relaxed and unguarded — in both demeanor and in what she had to say.

Ms. Hutchinson chose a royal blue blazer and wore her un-highlighted hair down for her interview on The Rachel Maddow Show.Credit…MSNBC

Some of what she had to say actually involved clothing and style — including startling details about the powerful Republican men who had felt free to comment on and assess her appearance, even to touch her body.

Ms. Hutchinson claims, for example, that on Jan. 6, 2021, at Mr. Trump’s rally, Rudolph Giuliani groped her under her jacket and skirt. The episode, which she discussed on the Maddow show, is also vividly described in “Enough”: “Rudy wraps one arm around my body, closing the space that was separating us. I feel his stack of documents press into the small of my back. I lower my eyes and watch his free hand reach for the hem of my blazer. ‘By the way,’ he says, ‘I’m loving this leather jacket on you.’ His hand slips under my blazer, then my skirt. I feel his frozen fingertips trail up my thigh.”

On the very day the Capitol would be overrun by rioters, whom Mr. Giuliani approvingly exhorted to “have trial by combat,” Ms. Hutchinson says he let his icy hand overrun her personal, physical boundaries. This display of entitlement, disrespect, and abuse of power mirrored, in microcosm, the transgression Mr. Giuliani would condone at the Capitol. And yet it was all couched in a fashion compliment.

Other high-ranking men also felt free to assess Ms. Hutchinson’s style choices. As she recounted to Ms. Maddow, John Boehner, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, once intrusively tugged on the ends of her hair and told her to “lose the ponytail.” (To grasp how strange this is, imagine a male politician reaching over another man’s shirt collar to finger his tresses.)

Mr. Trump — known for taking great interest in his female staff’s appearance — weighed in as well on Ms. Hutchinson’s hair: He counseled her to visit the salon frequented by the former communications director (and former Ralph Lauren model) Hope Hicks, even advising her to emulate Ms. Hicks’s specific look. “Cassidy,” she recalls him telling her, “you should get some of her highlights. I think they would look really nice on you.” Ms. Hutchinson lightened her hair immediately, a choice she says she later regretted. But she had internalized an ethos in which not even her body — the way she groomed and presented her physical self — was exempt from the oversight of her superiors, especially the president.

Ms. Hutchinson walked on a beach while being interviewed for CBS News Sunday Morning.Credit…CBS News Sunday Morning

A remarkable passage in “Enough” makes this point even more starkly: Ms. Hutchinson recalls being sworn in before testifying to the Jan. 6 committee. Raising her right hand to take the oath, she noticed that the motion made her white blazer sleeve bunch up around her forearm. “Trump will hate this,” she recalls thinking to herself. “He hates when women wear ill-fitting clothes.”

Even at this landmark moment, as she swore to reveal truths deeply damaging to Mr. Trump, Ms. Hutchinson could not shake her sense of his gaze upon her — imagining his displeasure, not at the words she was about to speak, but at her attire.

Now though, Ms. Hutchinson seems to be owning her style choices. On CBS News Sunday Morning, she strode the beach in jeans and a cozy sweater. And on “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” she forewent her usual businesslike blazer, and leaned into slouchy glamour in a soft, almost pajama-like, dark green silk button-down, open at the collar. The cocktail-ish look complemented well the very different tenor — and more revealing nature — of this interview.

While she spoke at length about the Trump White House, Ms. Hutchinson also got more personal, allowing Mr. O’Donnell to draw her out on the subject of her family. She spoke, as she does in her book, of struggling to gain the approval of her erratic father, an avid supporter of Mr. Trump. (“You don’t know how to love without conditions,” Ms. Hutchinson recounts telling her father.)

The interview and the memoir clearly suggest that a lifetime of coping with her father’s transactional approach to relationships, and his volatile and often cruel behavior — especially after she breaks with Mr. Trump — may well have “primed Hutchinson to succumb to the alternate reality of Trumpworld,” as Laura Miller wrote for Slate. It’s a chilling reminder of how closely the personal and the political can be interwoven.

But the personal and the political can interact in more benign, even inspiring ways: In “Enough,” Ms. Hutchinson explains why her mother chose to give her the middle name, “Jacqueline”: “Jacqueline Kennedy, was one of the most intelligent, elegant, and generous souls Mom knew of … she hoped I would look to Jacqueline Kennedy as a role model.” And in fact, there is a whisper of Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis’ style today in Ms. Hutchinson’s media persona — the unadorned sleekness of her clothes and hair (even her color palette); her soft-spoken and diplomatic responses — often to probing, even intrusive questions. A subdued yet arresting presence emerging from a moment of national crisis.

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