20 October 2021 (updated)

DC Insider Mom on the Street: Rebecca Chatterjee

Whether she's graciously entertaining political insiders with her husband, serving on two PTAs, or volunteering for several causes, DC Insider Mom Rebecca Chatterjee is fully immersed in her family-first approach while maintaining an elegant and polished style.

Meet Rebecca

As a hands-on mom of three, Rebecca proudly supports her family as a stay-at-home mom and Chief of the Household, while her husband has spent the bulk of his career working as an aide in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Rebecca knows how to seamlessly navigate the changing tides of the Washington DC political scene with impeccable social grace and a warm, positive spirit. She has been supporting her husband, Neil, the Commissioner and former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in his public service career for over 14 years by proudly managing their family and raising her three kids, Bohon "Bo" Alexander (14), Anderson Subir (12), and Lane Addison (9) as well as Oscar, their rescue puppy (1).

In addition to being the bedrock to her family, Rebecca actively serves on two PTAs and volunteers for community service projects for organizations like Food for Neighbors, DC Central Kitchen, Katie's Cause, and many more causes she believes in.

Fun facts about Rebecca include being called "Becca" by her friends. She's originally from Lexington, KY, and married her high school sweetheart. She met Neil back in 1994 and moved to DC in 2003, where she worked as the PAC and grassroots program manager at NATSO, an association representing America’s truckstops and travel plazas. Rebecca and Neil currently reside in Herndon, Virginia, with their three kids.

DC Insider Mom Style

Which three words best describe your style? Fit, comfortable, coordinated.

What are your favorite places to shop? Locally – Lucky Knot in Old Town Alexandria or Leesburg is my go-to.  Nordstrom, of course, always has a lot of great choices for staples and investment pieces. Otherwise, I scour online from many brands I love, including Elizabeth McKay, Duffield Lane, Elizabeth Wilson, Tory Burch, Rothys (love their sustainable products), Jude Connally, Sail To Sable, Smith & Quinn (formerly Kaeli Smith), Eliza J, Cynthia Steffe -CeCe, Hutch, Slate and Willow, Tahari, and Ted Baker.

Who’s your favorite style icon? I would describe my style as classic and simple, with a pop of flare. I love Michelle Obama‘s style. Her looks are always timeless. She is strikingly elegant and so put together. About one-third of my closet is J. Crew, Eliza J, and Lilly Pulitzer for that very reason.

What article of clothing/accessory would you not want to live without? As a mom-on-the-go, I have to say leggings. Athleta is my favorite, but I love the Calia line at Dick’s Sporting Goods as well. I try to find high-waisted pairs in neutral tones like blacks, tans, and greys, with a big pocket for my cell phone. But I also couldn’t go without my staples of totes, clutches, winter wool coat, heels, and flats, again in those neutral shades. You can always coordinate if you have the basics to swap out!

Which trend would you want to see make a comeback? Those pretty purses from the 1980s with wooden handles and fabric covers with buttons. I loved swapping them out. We had them monogrammed with our initials back then! I also loved those twisting beaded necklaces with the gold clasps.

What should NEVER make a comeback? Midriff anything. Nope. And cold-shoulder shirts.

Style Advice

Photo Credit: Diago Regali

What’s your best style advice? Wear only one busy item. Pick one focus, and the rest should be more muted. The eye should be drawn to one thing, maybe a statement necklace or earrings, but not both.

What fashion/style did you love at the time but now cringe when you see old photos? Barn jackets of the ’90s. I hope my mom doesn’t have some pics of me hidden somewhere!

What’s your 5-minute fashion tip if you have only 5 minutes to get ready? Tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, mascara, and bronzer. Perfume to yesterday’s hair – but not too much!

What’s your best style secret? In college, I worked for Clinique and learned a lot about what is natural and what is unnecessary. Less is always so much more. I learned to focus on the person’s eyes. I have hazel eyes, so to get the green color to pop, I add a little purple eyeliner to the brown, and I can always tell a difference. Use a color opposite on the color wheel (natural, of course).

Stilettos or flats? Both. Girls: don’t be afraid to swap out the shoes and save your feet when you can! I never thought to do this when I was younger. Instead, I have ruined my feet from years of sucking it up. If you see me in heels today, I am likely crying inside! If you find a few leather or leather-like tote bags that you can swap out, carry a change of flats. I have found that I don’t need a large number of flats – just a few. Neutral, black, maybe one red or pattern. I love my leopard Rothy’s.

DC Insider Mom Life

What’s your tip for managing family life while being a political wife? Remember to be grateful for the opportunity or invitation, no matter what it is. The kids are always listening, learning, and growing, soaking up what they hear. We must be a good example to them, no matter what is written in the press or said on the news.

When we moved here 18 years ago, my husband asked if we could take a chance in working on/off the Hill, and if we didn’t enjoy it, we would leave DC. We stayed! Every year that has passed, we have met the best people on all points of the political spectrum. So many have helped both of us get to where we are now, and without their guidance, advice, and giving of their time, we would have moved long ago! We are grateful for the many people who have checked in year after year, offered encouraging words in difficult times, and been loyal friends and colleagues doing what is right.

What’s your best fashion DC insider tip? My dear friend, Lindsee, introduced me to Tuckernuck’s invite-only sale. It usually happens sometime in winter, but the sales and finds were amazing! I also enjoyed the Rent The Runway sample sale – last year. I scored several black-tie gowns… of course, COVID has kept them unworn for now, but I am ready when the time comes! Beyond DC, I do love Poshmark online. I often can find a second version of something I already love, maybe in a different color.

Gracious Living

What’s your favorite social etiquette tip? Growing up in the South, my mother and aunts always taught me not to show up empty-handed to any invitation. If enough time is on the calendar before an event, find something personal to bring to the host. My favorite shop of all, Bar & Vine (also known as Sterling Cut Class), outside of Cincinnati sells very reasonably priced etched glass products.

Wine glasses, old-fashioned glasses, glass pitchers, trays, bourbon decanters, and flited serving bowls. I like to fill pitchers with flowers or bowls full of fruit instead of wrapping them – it is never an expected gift. And if not, even Trader Joe’s bouquets can be quickly arranged into a mason jar. I often keep scissors, tape, ribbon, and note cards in my car so I can add a note to anything last-minute. I’ve tried to teach my kids from a young age the value and importance of taking the time to do this.

DC Insider Family

What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family? Discovering new day trip opportunities to explore around DC. We have found so many over the years, and whether it is a new discovery or repeating an old trip, we love being with each other and taking all the photos to remember the times. Pre-COVID, we've had the opportunity to travel a lot internationally with the kids and had so many wonderful experiences. However, we have come to love shorter trips after adopting a rescue dog. We love coming back to him!  We also enjoy taking walks, cleaning up the section of the road near our home (through VDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program), and visiting Great Falls National Park.

What’s been your favorite family activity during COVID? There are too many so far! We are grateful for this time together. I believe the best has been when our dear friends (also neighbors), the Kosteva family, lent us an entire day to help us clear the forest behind our home. It was a tiring day last March, clearing thorny vines, tree stumps, and broken limbs. We were left with a light-filled, cleared forest with the creek running through it. We celebrated with champagne and Dominos and had very strong friend energy that day! And ever since then, the neighborhood kids love to play there. It makes us so happy.

Parenting Advice

Best parenting advice: Say yes only if it really helps your kiddo. It is OK to say no sometimes. We all need a break and time to reset, and our clocks are never, ever the same. Sometimes we need to catch up to each other. I call this mood management, and I am not a good manager, but giving breaks usually allow a reset.

Parenting true confession: I hide candy from them so I can eat it.

What’s your go-to family dinner? We are a mix of the same old standards as most families, but the kids HAVE to have at least something that grows from the ground at lunch and dinner. That is the main rule I really try to stick with, whether traveling, eating out, or eating at home.

What’s your favorite family dinner takeout? BRX and BRX Oven in Great Falls, VA! We love supporting the small businesses near us, but Ashwani, the owner, treats us like family. The food is incredible at both restaurants.

DC Insider Mom and Charity and Causes

What volunteer work are you passionate about and why?  We have learned most about a lot of charities through our incredible network of friends in Washington and the suburbs. The ones we love giving back to include LINK, Sanctuary DMV, DC Central Kitchen, Kate’s Cause, Food For Neighbors, and Martha’s Kitchen.

What is most meaningful about your volunteer service?  When I recently overheard my middle child telling his friend something I said, I realize its impact. Community service is so important to teach our children now, so they value it when they are adults. It is my job as their mom to make them want to give back their time, service, or donations and want to be a helper in the community.

What advice can you give to other moms who want to be active for a social cause?  Find a cause that works with your schedule or allows you to share the work with your children. Food For Neighbors fills backpacks with weekend meals for children who need help between weekdays when schools aren’t open.

We love to take the kids to pick out the items, though not as much during COVID. We also have made blessing bags for homeless residents in DC. They can really be a part of the hands-on preparation. We make bags for men and women, and the kids enjoy filling them with essentials, treats, and handmade cards in their own words. They like to wish them good times ahead.

DC Insider Mom Life

What’s your favorite show to binge-watch? My TV-watching is sporadic. I am watching Bridgerton with my husband, along with Bloodline. We have not finished either yet. Otherwise, Scrubs, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Everybody Loves Raymond.

If you could pick anyone to star as you in a movie based on your life, who would it be? Anna Kendrick – many people say I look like her.  I like her attitude!

What’s book is on your nightstand right now? Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, which I recently finished.  Kind of unbelievable fiction, with a political twist to it.

What song would you dance to when nobody’s watching?  Pretty much anything '80s. Always my favorite.  But Zac Brown Band usually puts me in a great mood.

On-the-Go and at Home

If you could go shopping with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be? My dearest Aunt Betty, Dr. Elizabeth Bohon Alexander. She has elegant style, class, she knows quality, and is the only person I know who could find Ralph Lauren sheets at a Big Lots! She's always dressed so appropriately perfect, and I adore her. She is a retired pediatrician in Louisville, Kentucky, and her three daughters are my first cousins and all a carbon copy of her grace. I like to think she has given me a lot of her traits in style.

What’s at the top of your travel bucket list? Germany, Switzerland, Maldives, Montana, Oregon. Also, a great ski trip out west with the kids, perhaps in Colorado or Utah. Neil has traveled quite a bit professionally, and I have joined him occasionally, as well as the kids, but these places are still on our list. I really want to take the kids all over Europe one summer.

What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day? Sitting in bed with TV, my husband, Neil, wine and ice water, petting my rescue dog, Oscar, and likely, eating a bar of Lily’s salted caramel milk chocolate. The entire bar is about 10 carbs!

Life as a DC Insider

We love Rebecca's elegant and warm approach to her DC Insider life and style. She's a wonderful example of being an excellent role model for her kids by focusing on how she lives her life through service and kindness. Regardless of the Washington DC political life's ebbs and flows, Rebecca is effortlessly grounded in her fashion and family values. Be sure to follow @beccachatterjee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

And for more inspiring and stylish moms, be sure to check out FamilyApp Mom on the Street!

**Cover Photo Credit: Emily Babcock Photography



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