An Interview With Kelly Jacobs, Mississippi Delegate and Queen of Political Fashion

Photos by Joanna Rothkopf.

PHILADELPHIA—On Thursday morning, I wrote about Jezebel’s hunt for a woman seen wearing the sickest dress at the Democratic National Convention, and also America. On Thursday afternoon, I received an email with the subject line “My Hillary and Obama Fashion Dresses.” “It is my understanding that you are trying to find me,” it read.

A few hours later I literally ran to meet Kelly Jacobs, a delegate from Mississippi, at the Wells Fargo Arena, the same evening Hillary Clinton would accept the Democratic nomination for president. I was not disappointed.


JEZEBEL: What brings you to the DNC?

Kelly Jacobs: My name is Kelly Jacobs and I’m a delegate from Hernando first Congressional district and a two-time Hillary Clinton Delegate.

Are you very excited to be here?

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! [She sings a note.] Last night the president, oh my god, I was just boo-hooin’. That might be the last night I get to see him in person, you know, since he’s very difficult to see him in person. I’m lucky I’ve seen him nine times in person. I’m a stalker.



Well I’ve been to both the inaugurations, both inaugural balls. I’ve been to some rallies, and of course I’ve seen him at the convention.


How do you get yourself to all these events?

Decide to go! Just decide to go. If you’re politically active then there’s a lot of work that’s done with no reward—registering voters, getting out the vote, going to meetings, going to boring meetings, listening to people talk that don’t know what they’re talking about. So being able to come to a convention is a reward for four years of hard work.


Usually people get a political t-shirt for a candidate and now the internet has changed, so you can design fabric on the internet. So this year when I won my position, I went back to a website that I used two years ago, it was $110 for like a 24' x 24' piece of fabric. I went back there to see, okay, how much will it be, and it was only $24 a yard. So I took some President Obama pictures that I really liked and were cute and I manipulated them artistically and changed the color and stuff and I started making dresses and wearing that. People were stopping me like, “Where’d you get that dress? I must have that dress.” And I’m thinking, you know, the construction isn’t very good; it’s puckering over here; I had to cut out this section over here so that I could put Obama up on my chest.

It’s just a fact that women love something fashionable and when you’re supporting a candidate, having a dress that looks good, that doesn’t look like a costume, but that looks good, is very exciting.

Image via Kelly Jacobs.

Whenever I go to the store, I wear one of my Hillary or one of my Obama dresses and ladies say, “Wow.” And men too! When we first arrived here, we were driving around and we walked into the grocery store and a man stopped his van in the road and he was yelling, “Lady! Where did you get that dress? My wife wants to wear it!” And I said, “Your wife hasn’t seen it!” And he says, “I wanna see my wife wearin’ that dress!” And it was just because it had President and Mrs. Obama in a very cute, loving pose, and that’s what they’re reacting to. There are so many people, so many of us who love our president, who love our Hillary Clinton, and so we like to be showin’ our support on our clothing.


Could you talk to me about what you’re wearing right now?

My very first dress was actually three plastic bags that said “John Kerry” on ‘em. They were yard signs and I taped them together. So I’ve come a long way since that campaign. It frees up your hands if you’re wearing something. The dress that I’m wearing today is, “Estoy contigo.” I’m trying to appeal to latin voters, Latinos, with this Spanish saying on it. Because I could’ve changed it and had it say, “We’re together” or “We’re with her” and stuff, but I wanted it to be Spanish. And it’s a big beautiful artistic headshot of Hillary Clinton. It’s only tacked onto the black crepe dress that I made. It’s tacked on at the top and the bottom, because I didn’t want to distort her face and make her look funny. I’m not trying to make fun of my candidate.


And then for the lining I have the big reveal which is the White House. What happened is like three years ago I thought, “Oh, I wanna make a White House dress,” and I had the White House printed on black fabric and on white fabric. And then I didn’t like it, nothing inspired me. I go to the fabric store, I just didn’t find anything else to put with it, so it’s just been in the closet. So then when I decided to make this dress and I had to line it, I thought, “You know what? I’m gonna line it and I’m gonna put that piece there and it’ll be the big reveal!”

Do you have a history of making clothing other than your political clothing?

No. Not a sewer really. But if you Google my name, “Kelly Jacobs delegate,” you’ll see my fabulous outfit from last year. I made this Obama sequin outfit—it was black sequins of his face on the front and silver sequins on the back, because he’s just as black as he is white, and that took me a lot of sewing because they were antique sequins that I hand sewed on there, I think about 2,000 sequins each side. And I wore that to the inauguration ball and to the convention, but mostly I wear jeans and a t-shirt. I live in the country, I live in Mississippi. I wear jeans and a t-shirt. But now that it’s election season I wear a Hillary or an Obama dress and I go shoppin’ in that.


Our culture editor wanted me to ask you if she could buy a dress.

No, no, no, no, no, no.

They’re just for you.

They’re just for me. And actually it would be illegal for me to sell, like, the Obama dress, because I don’t own the photograph. Pete Sousa who’s the photographer for President Obama, he owns the photograph, so I’m not trying to rob him. But I did take his photograph and artistically change it around. I presume you saw the New York Times?


I don’t know that I saw it.

Oh, my dress is on the front page of the New York Times. The front page, top of the leaf. They cut off my head. I assumed that’s why you contacted me.


No, I just saw you on the internet!

Oh! Well isn’t that fun! Well, yeah, I was going around passing out buttons, and here I’ll show you—it’s like totally big news in Mississippi that someone from Mississippi is on the front page of the New York Times and it’s not bad! Usually we’re there, front page, because we’re racist and sexist and we refuse people to let them go to school—or the flag, the flag is another thing.


[Shows me a photo of the Times].

That’s President Obama. So I manipulated him around and Michelle kinda goes around the side. And then I made this pin in 2014.

“President Hillary” necklace. Photo by Joanna Rothkopf.

You made that?

Well I ordered it, it took six months. So I was ambitious because it was in 2014 that I made it. And then I ordered this brooch from the internet and I put the portrait in there. And these are washable tattoos that they sold in the store. And these are shoes that feel really good the first five minutes.

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