By Deon C. Jefferson
As a Black woman, there are certains things that are held in high regard. One of those things is your appearance. Women take care of their appearance and spend time and energy putting together an outfit. Congresswoman Fredricka Wilson is definitely a woman that loves to put together an ensemble. Wilson made headlines recently as she showcased her hat collection and talked about her inspiration behind wearing hats on the Netflix show “Worn Stories.”
Wilson was elected to serve the US House of Representatives in 2010. Wilson is a former educator, elementary school principal, community leader, school board member, state legislator, and founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project. Along with her illustrious career, she has earned a reputation as a “Voice for the Voiceless”. She is currently serving her fourth term as congresswoman.
Her love for clothing and her appearance started at a young age. Growing up, her grandmother played a major role on the way she dressed.
“My grandmother was a business woman that was very independent, tall and stylish. My grandmother loved hats and she was always dressed from head to toe,” Congresswoman Wilson says. “She wore hats, gloves, and a full suit, and it always matched. She owned a row of houses. My grandmother would wear her full ensemble complete with high heels to collect her rent from the tenants, and I would go with her. I also had an aunt that lived in New York that was glamorous as well.”
Her grandmother wasnt the only person influencing our Congresswoman, she also loved people like Lena Horne, The Supremes, and Billie Holliday for their individual style.
On the show “Worn Stories”, WIlson shows off some of her collection of hats. The popular Netflix show gives viewers an indepth look into real people’s closet as they unpack the fascinating and interesting stories surrounding their most meaningful articles of clothing. At first glance, it’s pretty obvious which style of hats she favors. The cowboy hats are her favorite style of hats. Not just any cowboy hat though, Wilson loves them big and sparkly. In one scene, they show a photoshoot with important politicians and dignitaries. Blue and black are the main colors you see due to the notion that these two colors run the business and political world. Wison, however, is seen wearing a juicy red suit with matching shoes and sequin hat. The sequined cowboy hat is her official “preferred hat”
“I’ve never gone anywhere and not come back with a hat”, Wilson says. “But in Miami, I get my hats from Whittall and Shon. They are a gay couple that was originally from New York, but had a store in Miami. I found them about twenty years ago. Now, they are located in Wynwood. They are responsible for introducing me to the sequined cowboy hat. I came a long way from wearing Davy Crokett hats in grade school.”
Wilson has made a reputation for securing resources for various projects within her district, including a generous $1 million grant in 2014 that assisted with reducing crime in some of Miami-Dade County’s highest crime area, the Northside District. During her tenure as Congresswoman, the district has received $3.1 billion in grants, contracts, and other assistance. Not only does she represent Congress, she also made a lasting impression on former President Barack Obama. In May 2015, she was appointed to the advisory council of President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper Alliance”. Her efforts and leadership also led her to become the founder and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force.
“I never started wearing hats because I thought they would make a difference”, Wilson says. “You are not incognito when you wear hats. It’s impossible to be. When you stand out in the crowd of policy makers, people pay attention to what you have to say, so it helps get shit done”.
It takes a strong woman to be able to be confident in her own skin. Congresswoman Wilson is blazing a trail of excellence and she is making sure she is “dressed” along the way. Wilson is the perfect advocate for individuality and class. She is a politician that loves her city and also the people that she works with.
Wilson not only makes a statement when she is dressing, her presence and love for advocacy puts her in a league all her own.
“You have to find your own space and identity, and once you find it you should use it to your best advantage to not only help yourself, but to help your people,” she told the Miami Times in a recent interview. “When people see me, they stop and say who is that lady? They want to know, they are curious, and that sparks conversation – and that conversation sparks help for my children.”