What Do These Coloured Outfits at Biden's Inauguration Actually Mean

From Vice President Kamala Harris to young poet Amanda Gorman, the ladies at President Joe Biden's inauguration wore outfits in different hues and each of them had their reasons

Colours have played a dominant role in American politics and they were out in full swing at Joe Biden’s inauguration on 20th January. From Dr Jill Biden’s calming ocean blue to Vice President Kamala Harris’ and former first lady Michelle Obama’s purple to the young poet Amanda Gorman’s yellow, bright colours and a nod to indigenous American designers were the highlights at the historic event. A refreshing change from the tumultuous Donald Trump tenure that witnessed all white and all black outfits being used as tools of resistance by women in politics. It began at Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress in March 2017, where a sea of women wearing white stood out at the Capitol. Democratic women of the House of Representatives’ wore white, the colour worn by the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote. The colour was used as a mark of protest against some of his policies involving women. The colour resurfaced at Trump’s State of the Union address in early 2019. Much was written in international press about the bold, empowering nature of the white outfits. The outfit was used to send a striking visual message to the then president. When the #MeToo movement surfaced in 2018, Democratic women wore all black outfits to demonstrate their solidarity with the movement. Women made strong political statements with their sartorial choices without explicitly saying so. Coming back to Biden’s inauguration, the historic event signalled a dawn of a new era as Amanda put it in her poem, “ We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learnt that quiet isn’t always peace… We are striving to forge a union with a purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colours, characters and conditions of man.” And the motley of colourful outfits (please note there are more number of women in the White House than ever before and thereby is also an iconic moment in fashion) captured the hopeful, optimistic and confident mood of the nation right now. From giving a nod to mixed racial identities to promoting the cause of young, indigenous designers to reassuring the country that there’s power in equality, the outfits sent out messages loud and clear. What also stood out was how many chose to wear one prominent solid hue. The classic monochrome way of dressing was looked upon by many international commentators as a symbol of straightforwardness. Here’s a look at the different outfits that did quite some talking at the historic event.

Vice President Kamala Harris wore a dress and a matching coat in rich, royal purple by young black designer Christopher John Rogers. The colour is traditionally looked upon as a symbol of bipartisanship in the US--the blue of the Democratic Party and the Red of the Republican Party. However, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, preferred to wear this colour and since Harris is deeply inspired by her, it didn't seem surprising that she chose purple.

Dr Jill Biden wore a two-piece ocean blue ensemble in wool tweed designed by Markarian founder Alexandra O'Neill. She also wore a matching mask. According to a statement issued by the the luxury womenswear label, the colour blue represented trust, confidence, and stability.

Michelle Obama donned a plum Sergio Hudson outfit for the inauguration. Her long overcoat was layered over a turtleneck jumper, wide-leg trousers and a statement buckle belt. Why Michelle chose to wear a shade of purple? International media has reasoned that it's one of the official colours of the suffragist movement, the National Woman’s Party and that would have helped her make up her mind.

Hillary Clinton, the former first lady of America, made an appearance at the event in a purple Ralph Lauren trouser suit, scarf and an aubergine coat. Well, by now we know why she chose a variant of the particular shade.

Amanda Gorman, the young poet, who impressed the whole world with a powerful delivery of her poem "The Hill We Climb", also created quite a statement with her long yellow Prada coat and bright red headband. Prior to reciting her poem, in an interview with New York Times, she said: "I also hope that there is a breath for joy in the poem because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration." And her bright sunshine yellow coat did just that, it signified joy.

Lady Gaga who got on to the stage to sing the American national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner" wore a custom Schiaparelli haute couture design—a fitted navy cashmere jacket and a voluminous red silk faille skirt. She accessorised her outfit with a giant gilded brooch in the shape of a dove, a symbol of peace. About her dress, designer Daniel Roseberry said in a statement: "As an American living in Paris, this ensemble is a love letter to the country I miss so dearly and to a performer whose artistry I have so long admired."

Jennifer Lopez took to the stage in a head-to-toe white Chanel look. She performed "This Land Is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful" wearing a long tweed coat with gold buttons, a ruffled blouse, and wide-leg pants. The colour of her choice--white, we know is a symbol of the United States suffrage movement. The colour has been worn in the past as a symbol of resistance against gender inequality.