Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showcased American designers at their inauguration Wednesday, and Harris gave a nod to women’s suffrage, Shirley Chisholm and her beloved sorority in pearls and purple.
Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush also donned hues of purple. Harris has cited Chisholm, a Democrat from New York, as an inspiration for her career. Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black major-party candidate to run for U.S. president.
Pearls had a strong fashion showing, in line with a social media campaign that had inauguration watchers donning strands in support and celebration of Harris.
Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff
Vice-President Kamala Harris’ purple ensemble has already made an impact.
“Symbolically, it’s a bipartisan colour because it marries [Republican] red and [Democratic] blue,” says Ms Rothman, noting a number of elected officials or spouses had opted for purple today.
But that’s not the only reason purple has a special place for US women in politics. Women often wore the colour in the 1900s while campaigning for women’s right to vote.
Professor Elka Stevens, coordinator of the fashion design programme at Howard University, also notes it’s a colour of significance in the black community – one tied to the Christian experience as well. Ms Harris’ pearl necklace also made reference to a tradition in her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest all-black sorority in the US.
We can’t discuss political fashion without bringing up Michelle Obama.
Her purple Sergio Hudson sweater and palazzo pants plus coat look, along with perfectly curled hair, did not disappoint fans of the former first lady.
From bearing her arms to wearing both high-end and high-street fashion, Mrs Obama was “legacy-making” in a way that hearkened back to Nancy Reagan and Jackie Kennedy.
She also put many “independent and black designers” on the map during her eight years in the White House.
Incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden chose to wear an ocean blue wool tweed coat and dress by a young American designer named Alexandra O’Neil of Markarian.
“She’s young [and] up and coming, so [Biden] is giving her a huge honor to dress the First Lady,” Reid said, calling Biden’s outfit “tasteful” and “appropriate” with its understated but glamorous shimmery details and matching gloves. “I can see this young lady is going to have a moment after this spectacular look.”
“Her custom dress is well-fitted, traditional, feminine, strong, and says she’s not here to ‘rock the runway’,” added Barnett, who compared Biden’s “career woman” aesthetic to that of former First Lady Melania Trump, who maxed out high fashion wearing non-American designers during her tenure.