Fashion Fit For History: Inauguration Day

On Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021 both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were officially sworn in as the newest President and Vice President of the United States respectively. The Presidential Inauguration was attended by politicians of past and present with their families, guest speakers and numerous celebrities dressed up for the occasion.

Because the Inauguration Ceremony was outdoors, many chose to wear monochromatic looks in which their outerwear matched their outfits and their masks.

President Joe Biden attended the St. Mathew’s early morning church service and Inauguration Ceremony in a custom made Ralph Lauren navy blue suit. The American designer was also responsible for creating the overcoat worn by the President, with matching fabric used for Biden’s mask.

One of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s many looks of the day was a blue coat with dark blue velvet cuffs and matching collar, overtop of a tapered dress. The entire outfit was also hand-embellished with Swarovski crystals. The look was designed by Alexandra O’Neil, creator of label Markarian, who was selected specifically by Dr. Biden’s stylist.

The ensemble was inspired by the late film actress Grace Kelly due to her gracefulness and resemblance to The First Lady’s blonde hair color. This assisted in choosing the right colors to best compliment Dr. Biden while she wore the garment.

In an interview with Town & Country Magazine, O’Neil said, “I knew I wanted to do something classic and feminine, with beautiful tailoring and structure to make Dr. Biden look strong and confident. She’s such an impressive, accomplished woman and I wanted that to shine through.”

O’Neil expressed lots of gratitude towards the decision to commission herself for the design because of the support not only to American designers, but to the Garment District in New York City.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ outfit was a deep violet shift dress worn underneath a matching knee length coat jacket with a tailored collar. The color purple is often worn to signify loyalty and royalty, but specifically in politics as a stance on unity because the color is a result of both red and blue. Other women wore purple as well, such as Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Many Sacred Heart University students were a fan of the popular color choice.

“The use of purple for the political sign of unity was amazing,” said junior Melissa Doanld.

The look was created by upcoming Black American designer Christopher John Rogers. The choice of designer for the Inauguration and other events attended by Harris that week was said to have been deliberate in order to support young Black artists.

“Unity, inclusivity, and American Pride were the driving forces at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. The message was conveyed through the ‘Made-in-America’ labels and through the rainbow of strong head-to-toe colors,” said fashion Prof. Ellen Gang.

Poet Amanda Gormon was very highly praised for her bright look consisting of a long yellow Prada coat with a ruby red headband of the same brand. Along with this Gorman wore a bedazzled mask in the same color as her headband, which was a popular favorite among Sacred Heart students.

“The poet Amanda Gorman’s mask was the statement piece of her outfit, which defines some of the fashion COVID-19 brought out,” said Fashion Club President Katerina Ringes.

Regarding the choice of color for Gormons outfit, she has stated that it was the influence of the First Lady.

In an interview with Vogue Magazine, Gorman said, “It was my own nod to Dr. Jill Biden, who was the one who recommended me in the first place. I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it.”

Gorman also commented on her accessories, stating that she likes to wear things that are sentimental or have some connection to her to add depth to her poetry. Her earrings were a gift.

“Oprah actually got in contact with me, and we’ve been in touch for a while now. She said, ‘I bought the coat and gloves that Maya Angelou wore when she recited her inaugural poem. I’d love to continue the tradition with you and bring something to your outfit,’” said Gorman.

The young poet has continually stated how grateful she was for the opportunity to speak and how lucky she feels to have had such a positive reaction to the fashion worn by herself and others at The Inauguration.

“I’m glad we can talk about fashion, because it has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me,” said Gorman.

Many students and staff at Sacred Heart agree that the fashion seen at The Presidential Inauguration was a beautiful way to enhance the political ceremony.

“Although certainly not the focus of this event, fashion became a big story by triumphantly and tastefully complementing the celebration of the peaceful transition of power,” said Gang.

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