When it came time for South Carolina gubernatorial candidate James Smith to pick a running mate in May 2018, he chose fellow Democrat and South Carolina House member Mandy Powers Norrell.

“I have found a woman who has the experience and strength of character that we need, a woman who shares our core values as South Carolinians, a woman who is ready now to serve and to lead South Carolina,” he said at the announcement.

What Smith did not say (but could have) is that he had found a running mate who also had an unusually keen sense of fashion and enough glamour to make a Kennedy blush.

As Democrats, Smith and Norrell faced an uphill battle in deep red South Carolina. They put up a good fight, and kept the race reasonably close with nearly 46% of the vote.

Norrell remains a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, where she represents her native Lancaster County. She has recently launched an impressive campaign against sexual assault, introducing nine separate bills related to the issue this session alone.

It’s not every politician that can combine headline-making legislation with an accessibly glamorous image. We are fully expecting to see Many Powers Norrell run again for higher office (possibly much higher) before too long!

Impressive as her political chops may be, it is Norrell’s sparkling fashion choices we are focusing on today. Here are five of our favorites!


Mandy Powers Norrell flaunts that 70s vibe

Mandy Powers Norrell
This state representative sure likes to play around with fashion!  Mandy Powers Norrell attended a 70s-inspired gala, where she donned a beautiful multicolored design. Since the beauty is in the details, she went with hoops and a cool necklace, which both have a true 70s vibe. She completely nailed the event’s quirky theme while also looking fantastic. Bravo!


The long black gown

Mandy Powers Norrell
For big events like an Inauguration Ball, it’s hard to go wrong with black! Norrell looks mesmerizing in her fabulous black floor-length gown. We have to admit, the bold sweetheart embellished neckline really caught our eye and is very tastefully pulled off. Together with the sophisticated makeup, perfect updo, glamorous jewelry, this whole styling is a perfect 10!


Sunday best

Mandy Powers Norrell
We are pretty sure this lovely blue number is Norrell’s favorite dress. Is it because she loves Democratic Party blue, or does she realize it makes her look like Kate Middleton? Either way, we have to admit that it suits her for pretty much every occasion, including going to church with friends on a Sunday. Combined with her infectious smile, it’s all she needs to look superb.


Red monochrome by Mandy Powers Norrell

Mandy Powers Norrell
Okay, this dress is in Republican red, but can you blame Norrell for wearing it? The color is so vibrant, versatile and eye-catching that it provides all the drama you need in your closet. Here the state rep opted for a very classic sleeveless knee-length dress, but still managed to make it interesting because of the color selection. She also kept it very professional with a slight dose of skin-showing — completely appropriate for an evening dinner party. Since it’s a clean monochrome cut, a gorgeous pearl necklace and matching earrings help spice things up. A polished finishing touch is the patent leather heels, also in red.


A different kind of seersucker suit

Mandy Powers Norrell
If you are a small-town lawyer in the American South, you pretty much have to own a seersucker suit. Very few manage to make them look as stunning as Norrell does here, though!

The naturally cool fabric is hard to beat in a stuffy county courthouse in the heat of a Carolina summer. Seersucker is woven to have bumps on its surface, which means it never clings to your skin, and always allows air to flow easily. It also never needs ironing – another fantastic feature.

Fans of the 1980s legal drama Matlock will know this type of suit well, but Andy Griffith never carried his off his nearly this stylishly. Here Norrell sports the classic blue-and-white pinstripes the fabric is most famous for. The feminine cut of the suit is simultaneously playful and professional.


  1. A person’s fashion sense has no bearing on their ability to show compassion and provide real leadership. I find that though you did try to briefly express some of her good work, you purposely put her physical attributes and style ahead of what it truly real and important about who she is. Her real beauty has been lost in opinion written in this article. These opinions are superficial at best. I don’t care what she wears, how she wears her hair or the accessories she chooses for a black tie event. I care about what she brings to the table to benefit the citizens of the state of South Carolina. Her hard work and dedication should have never be overshadowed in an article about seersucker and sequins.

  2. Hi, I’m an editor here at News Growl and I thought I should reply as Gail is away for the next few days.

    This article is a fashion profile, part of a weekly series we’ve been running for over a year. So yes, it does put style ahead of policy and leadership. That is its purpose as content.

    This does not mean that we do not also value honesty, integrity, leadership, political aptitude, or any other quality a good politician might have. We cover those subjects in other content, especially our long-form interviews, but not in depth as part of our fashion profiles.

    The fashion choices politicians make, while not in the scheme of things of huge importance, can be substantive enough to deserve discussion. Cornell University recently had an exhibition of important fashion choices made by powerful political women, from Corretta Scot King to Katherine Clarke. For good or for bad, politicians do spend a lot of time on their image. As a website, we are spending a small amount of time talking about this.

    I’m sorry you don’t value Gail’s opinions on Ms Norrell’s fashion choices, but in no place did Gail state that these fashion choices were more or less important than policy, leadership, compassion, or anything else. It simply an article about style and fashion.

    In the past, Gail has profiled a politician in her column and we have gone on to interview them, covering the sorts of issues I think you would value you more. I would be delighted if we had such an opportunity in this instance.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here