The Politics of Fashion: Inauguration Day 2021

Well, January’s been an ‘eventful’ month, hasn’t it? Variants, lockdowns, copious amounts of snow in Spain, an assault to the Capitol… It’s been one hell of a start to 2021. But if there’s one thing I’m taking away from this godawful and ridiculously long month it’s Inauguration Day – an unforgettable one to say the least. Maybe it’s because of everything that’s happening, maybe it’s because a certain someone finally left the White House, maybe it’s because history was made – whatever the reason, this Inauguration Day felt different.

I’m not American and I didn’t watch the whole act, and yet I still felt a tremendous amount of relief to actually see it happen. I’d go as far as saying that I was excited, moved and yes, empowered even. Because in what is still a man’s world, the women stole the show. Kamala, Jill, Michelle, Jennifer. And the fashion – oh my, the fashion. For those who say fashion isn’t serious, political or meaningful – think twice. Americans know how to put on a show, be that in Broadway or in Washington D.C. This show felt more powerful than ever, and the fabulous fashion only enabled that. These are my favourite looks (and some of my favourite women) from Inauguration Day 2021.

Kamala Harris

Image via People

Let’s start with the absolute star of the show, Kamala Harris, who wore an outfit by black designer Christopher John Rogers. History has been made – and I hope it continues to be made. Like many others, I’m already fantasising about Kamala Harris being the first female president in the next few years. For now, I adore her – and only Kamala could make me appreciate purple. It is, after all, the colour of the suffragettes.

Michelle Obama

Image via New Yorker

Damn, Michelle. What an outfit. What a statement. Not to mention the incredible hair. This is probably my favourite ensemble of all – so simple, yet so eye-catching. And the colour! Is it wine? Burgundy? Whatever this concoction is, it’s a dream. I’d wear this look by designer Sergio Hudson in a heartbeat.

Jill Biden

Image via Collateral

Wearing the colour of the Democratic party in all its glory, Dr. Jill Biden gave us, together with Michelle and Kamala, an excellent lesson in tonal dressing. I mean, check out those velvety heels, those leather gloves and that face mask. Beautifully matchy-matchy yet chic and subdued, the outfit was designed by the New York-based brand Markarian.

Amanda Gorman

Image via Fashionista

Poet Amanda Gorman was an excellent discovery for me, as I shockingly hadn’t heard of her before and now just have to mention this article she penned for Harper’s Bazaar UK in regards to 2020 and 2021. But besides the lovely poem she recited on Inauguration Day, there was no way I could ignore that fabulous moment of colour blocking. Red and yellow is, in my opinion, the hardest colour combo of all – and Gorman styled it masterfully in this total look by Prada. The chunky red hairband is a dream, and the yellow coat? Well, it’s heavenly – and a nod to Jill Biden, who chose Amanda and told her she’d seen a video of her in which she was wearing yellow. What a beautiful coincidence that yellow (well, ‘Illuminating’) is one of Pantone’s colours of 2021.

Also, Amanda has to get top marks for the accessorising. Kudos to anyone who can rock two face masks – especially when the main over is red and covered in diamanté. The Prada gloves are just ridiculously luxe, but the most significant accessory is possibly her ring – a bird in a cage; an ode to Maya Angelou.

Natalie Biden

Image via Los Angeles Times

Um, hello, what is this? A perfect – and custom-made – bubblegum pink coat with a matching scarf that might actually be attached to the coat? I literally had to look up this lady because as a pink obsessive I instantly fell in love with this incredible outfit. While there’s something off about the tan boots paired with the pink coat, it somehow works wonders – I feel like Sex and The City stylist Patricia Field would approve? Well, Joe Biden’s grandchild Natalie Biden may just be a fashion icon in the making. Sweet sixteen, but make it pink and with a matching face mask.

Lady Gaga

Image via Another Magazine

I can’t say I love this look per se (I don’t like the navy jacket and red skirt combo), but I do love the red hue, the hairdo, the lipstick and the beautiful dove and olive branch brooch. I also love that it’s by Maison Schiaparelli, which is one of my favourite fashion houses. Plus, it’s Lady Gaga – and I approve of pretty much everything Lady Gaga does fashion wise.

Bernie Sanders

Image via Today

I wasn’t going to include any men in this post. While I know I shouldn’t hate on menswear, I just can’t get as excited about it as I do about womenswear because (sadly) the men always keep it safe (read: boring) at these kinds of political acts. But I had to give a shoutout to one of my favourite political figures, Bernie Sanders. I love Bernie Sanders, but I don’t really understand why his mittens went viral – is it because they’re cute? Either way, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the internet go crazy over Bernie’s mittens and witnessing the possible birth of a winter 2021 trend. It goes to show anyone can be a trendsetter – but let’s hope Bernie’s ideas get as much attention as his mittens have one day, yes?

Jennifer Lopez

Image via Page Six

Image via Vogue Singapore

Image via Grazia

I had to save the best – all hail the queen, no wait, the goddess that is Jennifer Lopez. She served not one, but two incredible looks for Inauguration Day that couldn’t be anymore J.Lo worthy. First up, Chanel houndstooth, anyone? That coat and those trousers are just too good. Secondly – an all-white Chanel ensemble. Sequinned trousers? Check. A perfect winter white tweed coat? Check. Statement earrings with the famous double C logo? Of course. A basically perfect look? Hell yeah. It doesn’t matter what you decide to focus on because EVERY SINGLE DETAIL WAS PURE PERFECTION. The hair was to die for, the makeup was incredible. Even her damn toenails were painted. Even her boyfriend was in complete awe of her, supporting her and celebrating her triumph and goddess appeal. I mean, even that tweed beret is awesome. Only J.Lo could do this. It’s fabulously over the top yet super chic and luxurious. It goes to show that there’s nothing better than J.Lo in Chanel. Having said that, while I loved seeing J.Lo drenched in Chanel, maybe she could have gone a little patriotic and worn an American designer? It’s fine though, because it’s J.Lo and no one shall question J.Lo.

In conclusion? Never underestimate the power of fashion. Whether that’s Amanda Gorman’s ring, Jill Biden’s blue or Kamala Harris’ purple (I’ve linked it to suffragettes; some say it was the matching of the Democrats’ blue and the Republicans’ red) symbolism is powerful. Women have power, fashion is power and tonal outfits are the way to make a statement. Here’s to a new era – fingers crossed it’ll be an improvement.

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