The XX Factor

Madeleine Albright and the Art of Mindful Accessorizing

Today on DoubleX , our writers (and the sisters Ephron ) describe moments when wardrobe played a particularly memorable role in their personal history, in response to the book (and now play) Love, Loss, and What I Wore , which takes as its premise the idea that there is more meaning than we realize in the everyday act of getting dressed. But even those whose quotidian existence is anything but put more thought into the details of an outfit than we might guess: Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, who surely cannot be accused of shallowness, has just released a book, Read My Pins , relating the stories behind the brooches with which she always accessorizes. Some are sentimental, some had diplomatic import. From a thoroughly delightful NPR interview :

After the Russians were caught tapping the State Department, Albright protested by wearing a pin with a giant bug on it. On days when Albright felt she had to do “a little stinging and deliver a tough message,” she wore a wasp pin.

At one point, Russian leader Vladimir Putin told President Clinton that he knew what the mood of a meeting would be by looking at Albright’s left shoulder. (Albright’s pin with three monkeys, which she wore when discussing Chechnya, was meant to draw attention to the fact that Russia took a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” stance toward the Chechen atrocities.)

More on the diplomatic doyennes’s jewelery in Talk of the Town , and if you’re in New York, you can stop by the Museum of Art and Design to see her pins on display.