The Power Of Fashion: A Closer Look At The Symbolic Clothing On Inauguration Day

The fashion on inauguration day was iconic, with many of the country’s leaders dressing symbolically for the historic occasion.

American fashion took center stage at the inaugural ceremonies. President Joe Biden wore a suit designed by fashion designer Ralph Lauren, as did the second gentleman, Doug Emhoff. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to serve in the role, wore a purple dress and coat by Christopher John Rogers, an up-and-coming Black designer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This appears to mark a return to American fashion representation in the White House, as championed by the Obamas during their tenure and then apparently abandoned by the Trumps.

But this wasn’t the only sartorial statement made at the inauguration. Vice President Harris, as well as former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton and lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, wore varying shades of purple, which is a color of the women's suffrage movement. The color purple, a combination of blue (Democrat) and red (Republican), has also become seen as a metaphor for bipartisanship, leading many to believe their coordinated choices reflect the growing hope for unity moving forward. However, Nancy Pelosi showed up in the brightest blue, striking a less bipartisan tone. 

Read on for a closer look at the powerful fashion choices made by the women in attendance at the 2021 Inauguration.

Vice President Kamala Harris

The vice president wore a purple dress and matching coat by Christopher John Rogers, a 26-year-old Black designer who is making a name for himself after dressing former First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Tracee Ellis Ross, and more influential women. Harris also sported an ever-present string of pearls, representing her historically Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. The pearl necklace with 18k gold oval links was designed by Wilfredo Rosado, a jewelry designer who, like Harris, is the son of immigrant parents. She topped the look with a David Yurman American flag pin on her lapel.

First Lady Jill Biden

The First Lady also attended the day's events wearing looks from one of the country's young designers. As she stood by her husband’s side, she wore a custom blue wool tweed dress embellished with Swarovski crystals and pearls and a matching coat by Colorado-born Alexandra O’Neill of the Markarian label. In a press release, the label explained that the look was made in various shades of blue to “signify trust, confidence, and stability.”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama attended today's inauguration wearing a plum ensemble by Sergio Hudson, a Black American designer who has long been a favorite of the former First Lady. The monochromatic look consisted of a turtleneck and trousers, cinched at the waist with a gold belt buckle and topped with a matching cashmere overcoat. Hudson is receiving rave reviews for melding power and grace, and who better than Michelle Obama to pull it off?

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton

To no surprise, Hilary Clinton also wore a pantsuit, her signature style, to the inaugural ceremony. The bright purple set was designed by Ralph Lauren, an American designer who has become one of her go-tos, and featured a matching ruffle scarf. She topped the look with an overcoat in a deeper eggplant hue.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi may not talk about her clothing choices, but she sure puts thought into them (ahem, that impeachment dress). The Speaker showed up to the inauguration today wearing a bright blue coat with a coordinating scarf and mask. Blue is obviously the color of the Democratic party, so it seems like her outfit may have been a humble brag. But the color blue also symbolizes stability, something I'm sure she is looking forward to with the Biden administration. 

Jennifer Lopez

While performing “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful,” Jennifer Lopez wore an all-white ensemble by Chanel. The color was used by the early 20th century movement to recognize women’s right to vote, and it has recently been worn by female lawmakers as a sign of solidarity.

Lady Gaga

There was no missing the gold dove of peace brooch pinned to Lady Gaga’s shoulder. The singer, who performed the national anthem at today's ceremony, wore a custom Schiaparelli Haute Couture look designed by Texas-born Daniel Roseberry.

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