Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s granddaughter Clara Spera is revealing how she bonded with the late icon over fashion while rummaging through her “perfectly organized” closet.
In a first-person essay for Harper’s BAZAAR’s December/January issue (on newsstands now), Spera — who followed in her grandmother’s footsteps and became a lawyer — reflects on the late Supreme Court Justice’s legacy, shares the lessons she learned from her, and writes that she used to “delight in rummaging through” Ginsburg’s color-coordinated closet.
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“Every time I went to Washington, D.C., to visit my grandparents, I would inevitably end up ‘shopping in Bubbie’s closet’ (with her encouragement). I would delight in rummaging through the perfectly organized—by season and color—closet,” Spera writes. “Occasionally she would identify items she thought I’d like, making sure to tell me the exact history of the piece—where it was from, when she acquired it, what special events she had worn it to.”
Ginsburg was famous for sprucing up her black judicial robes with embellished collars, but according to Spera, her wardrobe was filled with other little gems as well — including “a beautiful Italian leather clutch” that she eventually gifted to Spera.
“While she usually ‘lent’ me (but with no return date) most things I liked—my favorite blazer is a vintage Brooks Brothers number plucked from her wardrobe—there were some things she wasn’t so willing to part with,” Spera continues. “Once, after having identified a sumptuous cashmere winter coat, I wore it into her room and announced that I thought it looked particularly good on me. Barely glancing up from her mountain of briefs, she gave me the once-over and firmly replied, ‘Yes, and it looks very good on me too.'”
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The lawyer also reflected on what she learned from her Ginsburg, writing that, growing up, she had “little awareness of the magnitude of her job or her triumphs for gender equality from which I would undoubtedly benefit.”
“But I learned from her that it was important to keep my room neat and tidy, that I shouldn’t raise my voice because it wouldn’t get me anywhere, and that I could imagine a future for myself unimpeded by stereotypes about ‘the way women are.'”
“Those lessons stuck with me as I entered the legal profession. As a reproductive rights litigator at the American Civil Liberties Union, I endeavor every day to emulate my grandmother’s work ethic. While there is so much to be angry about right now, I try to channel that anger into productivity,” she shares. “If my grandmother’s and others’ accomplishments enabled me to imagine a limitless future, it is now up to me to hold the door open for others—in tandem with my husband.”