The Washington Post

Tampa memories: Fashionable women of the RNC

Convention delegates are known for their funny, attention-getting outfits. Either they are laden with buttons and pins they’ve traded with other attendees, or they’re decked out in a patriotic extravaganza of red, white and blue. So, as I walked the halls of the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the Republican National Convention, I kept my eyes open for folks who didn’t run with the herd. And I found some. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I found them.

The key to inclusion was the shoes. Nothing ruins a beautiful dress or a suit like a pair of shoes that are inappropriate for the outfit (i.e. running shoes or flip-flops with a suit) or are just plain ugly (i.e. Birkenstocks or Crocs with anything). You aren’t dressed to the nines when your shoes are zeroes. As you’ll see, the folks I found were the complete package.

(Jonathan Capehart)

Anna Gatlin caught my attention on the red-carpeted floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum as Republican Party chief Reince Priebus briefly called the convention to order on Aug. 27. Normally, I’m not a fan of animal print anything. But the Ole Miss graduate’s simple, slightly above-the-knee dress and black heels earned my admiration, especially in that venue. When I complimented her outfit, Gatlin said, “I’m Southern, and we really like fashion.”

(Jonathan Capehart)

Caroline Shinkle and I collided on the Forum’s floor a few hours later. Her shortened sleeved white textured coat grabbed my attention. The peek of black skirt from under the coat made for a smart look. Like Gatlin, Shinkle had a ready pose. But before I got my camera ready, the MIT sophomore who was the youngest member of the Massachusetts delegation, raked her hair from the back to over her shoulders for a look that was very Marsha Brady — in a good way.

(Jonathan Capehart)

My plan was to avoid patriotic apparel, but Alice Butler-Short had me at the shoes. Her flagged footwear were show-stoppers. I wasn’t the only one to stop the alternate delegate from American Samoa, who actually lives in northern Virginia, for a photograph. But when I asked the Irish immigrant where she got them, her response was just too rich. “I ordered the shoes from Beijing,” Butler-Short said. “I couldn’t find them anywhere else.”

As with Gatlin and Shinkle, Butler-Short had a ready pose. Like Shinkle, she had her right foot forward. How fitting for the RNC.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing