Not even the chill of mid-January could stop our D.C. ladies from shining in their brightly colored coats at the Inauguration of our 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden. Bundled up in their warm winter gear, masks, and gloves, they communicated through clothing alone. From Dr. Jill Biden to Michelle Obama, here is a guide to all the ceremony’s fabulous looks and what they signify for the presidential term to come.
New First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stood by her husband’s side in a textured turquoise Markarian tweed coat and matching dress designed by sustainability-focused American designer Alexandra O’Neill. Finishing off the cool yet bright ocean ensemble is a pair of hand-crafted leather gloves from New York City’s last remaining glove maker, Wing & Weft. You can read more about Dr. Biden’s inauguration day and night outfits – and the designers that brought them from sketch to reality – here.
Also bringing her “A” game to the occasion was Vice President Kamala Harris, who chose a bright purple number from up-and-coming Black designer Christopher John Rogers. According to Harris’s senior advisor Symone Sanders, the frock was “an ode to Shirley Chisholm,” Congress’s first elected Black woman and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Mixing Republican red and Democratic blue – much like Dr. Biden’s violet coat from the Tuesday before the Inauguration – Harris’s purple look was also an ode to bipartisanship and unity. Furthermore, it was a nod to the purple used in Chisolm’s 1972 presidential campaign.
Michelle Obama’s maximalist burgundy Sergio Hudson look was my – and much of the public’s – favorite look of the afternoon. The former First Lady exuded confidence, intelligence, power, and style in her turtleneck and trouser combo, finished with a dramatic overcoat and chunky gold-plated belt. Like Kamala, Michelle championed the work of a Black American designer, Sergio Hudson, whose ready-to-wear luxury women’s label exhibits a masterful use of color and silhouette to make its wearers stand out from the crowd. And Michelle sure did stand out!
Rounding out the purple trio was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sported a deep purple pantsuit from Ralph Lauren at the ceremony. Along with Kamala and Michelle, Hillary wore purple to stress the need for unity now more than ever. Hillary’s choice was also a callback to the purple she wore during her concession speech in 2016. Through their clothing, these three women silently called for members of both political parties to come together and move forward for the good of the country. Even Jill, who chose turquoise for the event, was seen sporting violet the day before.
Though purple featured heavily at the 2021 inauguration, there were those who opted for colors on the warmer side of the spectrum. Young poet Amanda Gorman and Minnesotan senator Amy Klobuchar both shined in bright yellow accented with red. Recommended by Dr. Biden herself to recite her work at the ceremony, 22-year-old Gorman delivered verses full of love and light. She paired her yellow Prada coat and headband with jewelry provided by Oprah Winfrey – gold hoops and a ring in the shape of a caged bird, calling back to Maya Angelou’s memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Meanwhile, Klobuchar wore the same mustard-colored coat she had worn the day she announced her bid for the presidency. She paired it with a maroon scarf and red top.
Of course, these are just some of the looks we loved most from the 2021 presidential inauguration. We didn’t even mention Ella Emhoff’s beige and black plaid Miu Miu coat with gold beading or Nancy Pelosi’s turquoise coat and matching scarf.
And so, in a sea of blues and purples punctuated by yellows and reds, the message was clear – Stand for American industry. Stand for sustainability. Stand for unity. I can’t wait to see what these ladies wear next.
© Roza M. Melkumyan (3/16/20) FF2 Media
Featured Photo: (from left to right) Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, and Dr. Jill Biden shine in their designer coats at the presidential inauguration. | Photo by U.S. Army Private 1st Class Laura Hardin