Inauguration Day Fashion
On January 20 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States at the Capitol in Washington DC. Just two weeks before, thousands of Trump supporters stormed and attacked the very building that served as the backdrop for the day. During times of division and grief, people usually turn to art for hope and comfort, and a certain type of art was on full display at the 2021 Inauguration: Fashion. The fashion on display at the inauguration this year was talked about to the max on Tiktok, Twitter, and Instagram. Everyone was desperate to talk about something other than the attack on the Capitol that they had seen just a few weeks ago, especially since COVID has robbed fashion lovers of opportunities to watch events like the Met Gala where fashion is the main focus. Many of the pieces and colors worn were symbolic and sent political messages, but some were simply worn as personal expression. There was a showcase of American designers from all types of backgrounds and every part of the country. There was also a trend of monochromatic outfits and jewel tones. Here are some of the standouts from the day.
Surprisingly, Senator Bernie Sanders was also noticed for his outfit. A photo of Sanders slouching in a foldable chair alone with his hands crossed and a disgruntled look on his face quickly turned into a meme. People thought it was funny how casually Sanders was dressed in his only winter coat from Burton Edgecomb that has made several appearances in his campaign videos. Sanders commented on his casual wear saying, “in Vermont, we know something about the cold. And we’re not so concerned about good fashion. We just want to keep warm.” Sometimes what you wear and your body language says everything. Bernie’s clothing stated that it was just another day in the office for him.
Sanders' outfit did have one interesting anecdote. The mittens that he wore were made by a second grade teacher from Vermont, Jen Ellis. Ellis uses old wool sweaters to make the mittens. She lines the insides with fleece made of recycled plastic. Bernie wearing recycled mittens made by a school teacher while other politicians are wearing clothes from famous designers that cost thousands of dollars is very on brand for him, and perhaps it was a better example of what a public servant should be wearing during a pandemic that has hurt millions of people financially.
A survey was sent out to Upper school students to get their opinions on what was worn. When asked whether or not they paid attention to what was worn at all, 17% said that they didn’t notice what was worn while 83% said they did. When asked what their favorite look was, the most common answers were Natlie Biden, Michelle Obama, and Bernie Sanders. The least favorite looks were Ella Emhoff, Kamala Harris, and all of the men besides Bernie.
Biden was dressed in a sharp, navy blue suit by American designer, Ralph Lauren. Biden has supported Ralph Lauren in the past, wearing a Ralph Lauren turtleneck to receive his first dose of the COVID vaccine and a polo with the pony logo on the chest for his second dose. Not only is Ralph Lauren an American brand, it is representative of the American dream. Ralph Lauren was born to a lower class family in a small, two bedroom apartment in the Bronx. Lauren began his career as a tie salesman and worked his way up the ranks to eventually create his own line of ties and clothes. Biden wearing an iconic American brand by a self-made billionaire is a big shift from the previous president, who claimed to put America first, but was regularly seen in clothes made by European brands. The second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, was also seen wearing Ralph Lauren.
The Biden grandchildren were also the talk of the town (specifically the girls). This is unusual because, in the past, the children and grandchildren of presidents have never really been talked about when it came to what they wore. The eldest Biden grandchild, Naomi, wore a monochromatic white outfit with a coat from Adam Lippes. White has historically been the color of woman suffragists and is often worn to pay homage to their achievements. The second oldest grandchild, Finnegan, wore a brown dress and coat by Brandon Maxwell. Maisy Biden, the third Biden grandchild, stayed true to her tomboy-esque style by wearing a navy pantsuit and turtleneck, pairing the look with Nike Air Jordan sneakers. Continuing the trend of monochromaticity, Natalie Biden wore all pink with a custom made coat from Lafayette 148 with slouchy, brown knee high boots. Everything they wore was complimented as being youthful and hip, yet sophisticated. All of the grandchildren also wore masks that matched the color of their outfit.
The Vice President, Kamala Harris, wore a jewel-toned purple coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers. Rogers is a young, up-and-coming black artist from Louisiana. Her shoes were designed by another young black artist from South Carolina, Sergio Hudson. Harris’s choice to showcase black American designers on Inauguration Day was not a coincidence. It sent a message that black designers can compete with every other brand out there. The color purple was a popular color of the day, worn also by former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Laura Bush. Purple is a mix of red and blue, the colors of the two parties. It is a color that symbolizes unity and bipartisanship, something that the country desperately needs right now. Purple is also another color associated with suffragists, which is fitting for the first female vice president.
Harris’s stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, was another kid whose style did not go unnoticed. She showed out in a Batsheva dress paying homage to her Jewish heritage and a beautiful Miu Miu coat with crystals on the shoulders. After the inauguration, Emhoff was offered a contract by one of the best modeling agencies in the world, IMG Models. She signed immediately.
The performers of the day, Amanda Gorman, Lady Gaga, and Jennifer Lopez also stood out in the fashion department. Amanda Gorman wore her favorite color, yellow, in the form of a Prada coat. She paired the coat with a red Prada headband and gold jewelry. The earrings and ring she was wearing were gifted to Gorman by Oprah. The ring Oprah gifted Gorman is of a bird in a cage to honor a previous inaugural poet, Maya Angelou, who wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Lady Gaga wore a navy top and red skirt by Schiaparelli and gloves by Cornelia James. She also wore some gold jewelry, a brooch on her chest of a Dove with an olive branch. She later explained on Twitter that the broach was meant to symbolize peace, saying “may we all make peace with each other.” Lastly, Jennifer Lopez wore an all white pantsuit by Chanel to honor the women’s suffrage movement like Naomi Biden.