Before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was sworn into Congress as the youngest woman to ever serve in the legislative body, she was already expounding the values of thrift shopping. “There’s so much pressure to present ourselves in the world a certain way, and, sometimes, that means looking a lot more expensive than what you can afford in a moment,” she told ELLE.com back in December 2018. “I am a thrift shopping queen,” she added, sharing that she also started using Rent the Runway after her friend gifted her a subscription. (In 2019, the Washington Post reported that women on Capitol Hill were utilizing the service, which allows you to rent work wear and other clothing, so much that nearby mailrooms were filled to the brim with RTR garment bags.)In the two years since that interview, Ocasio-Cortez’s clothes have become a constant source of conversation, for both her supporters and her haters. And thrifting on the Hill? That’s only become more popular.Last Tuesday, Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush made news when she tweeted: “The reality of being a regular person going to Congress is that it’s really expensive to get the business clothes I need for the Hill. So I’m going thrift shopping tomorrow.” At the time, Bush was gearing up for orientation for the freshman class of the 117th Congress; she’d recently been elected as the first Black congresswoman from Missouri. Pretty soon, her tweet went viral. Its message was clear: Traditionally, American politics has been a place for the very rich, and even more traditionally, for very rich men. (It’s been reported that a majority of those in the current 116th Congress are millionaires.) There are extra obstacles for officials like Bush, or as she says, “regular people,” and the price tag on the dress code is another product of that unbalanced playing field.
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But the response to Bush’s declaration proved something else—those demographics are slowly changing. The group of progressive congresswomen known as The Squad, who will be welcoming Bush into their cohort come January, quickly shared their own thrifting secrets: Rep. Ilhan Omar responded to her tweet, writing that “thrifting is the way to go” and that she specializes in “$50 or less outfits.” She even offered to pick up a scarf from a Somali shop in her district for…