Yesterday, one of America's most important transitions of power unfolded at the U.S. Capitol. We could spend this entire article talking about the significance of this moment, but let's save the politicking for another day. Because inauguration day (or as we will be calling it from now on: the Met Gala of politics) stood out for an entirely different reason: the looks that were served.
America's political elite descended on Washington D.C. dressed to the nines. In the thicket of Washington winter, the inauguration's attendees delivered high fashion outerwear moments that veered from rocking glamourous Chanel suits and hyped Dior Jordans to giving small American brands, such as Christopher John Rogers, Markarian, and Sergio Hudson, a historic platform.
However, aside from being an absolute flex-fest, this inauguration also marked, among other things, a sartorial shift in American politics. Remember when political fashion choices were coded messages of solidarity and optimism rather than trollish excess? Those days are back. A new administration introduced itself and its values concisely and fashionably in clothes.
To celebrate this historic occasion, let's look back at some of our favorite looks from Washington D.C. Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2021— err... I mean, inauguration day.
Michelle Obama in Sergio Hudson
Let's talk about Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. And that belt.
When it comes to dressing, the former First Lady never disappoints, but yesterday she took her drip to new heights when she showed up in this burgundy ensemble by Black designer Sergio Hudson. Obama kept things monochromatic with a floor-length coat, wool turtleneck, and boot-cut trousers. But the star of the show was her belt with a jumbo gold buckle.
She accessorized the look with black leather gloves, pointed boots, and a silk face mask. Power, grace, and style, this is the Michelle Obama we know and love. (And also my future "divorcing my rich husband" look.)
Jennifer Lopez in Chanel
After so many years of this nation disrespecting Latinx and immigrant communities, it was refreshing, to say the least, to see Jennifer Lopez perform at the inauguration ceremony and address the nation in Spanish and it was absolutely iconic when she threw in a bit of "Let’s Get Loud" into her political medley. But as much as J.Lo gave us a moment for the meme gods, she also delivered a lewk for the fashion-savvy.
Jenny from the Block interrupted the crowd of colorful ensembles with a powerful head-to-toe white look by Chanel, featuring an ecru and tweed overcoat, a ruffled silk blouse, sequined, high-waisted trousers, and pearls. The look was a tasteful nod to the suffragettes, who adopted white clothing as emblematic of women's liberation.
And maybe I'm reading too much into this, but Lopez's Chanel look was a big Maid in Manhattan moment. You know, her 2002 movie where she plays a hotel maid whose Cinderella story unfolds when she "borrows" a guest's white Chanel coat outfit. If this isn't a commentary on this Latina's rise from the working class to the American dream I don't know what is.
Kamala Harris in Christopher John Rogers
Kamala Harris has bolstered her campaign with standout style moments, such as satin suits in suffragette white, those relatable converses, and her recent Pyer Moss endorsement. Inauguration day was no different.
Vice-President Kamala Harris took her oath wearing a swishy royal purple dress-and-coat ensemble from Black designer Christopher John Rogers. Not only did she look gorgeous (obviously), but true to Harris' sartorial playbook, the outfit was laden with symbolism.
Not only did the Vice-President monumentally endorse a twenty-seven-year-old queer, Black designer, the color story was also worth noting. Purple was the original color of the suffragettes and a mix of the political party colors, red and blue, it is also a symbol of solidarity, bipartisanship, and unity, according to The Hill.
Christopher John Rogers, the ensemble's designer told Vanity Fair last year, “The people who initially reached out to me for interviews and pulled my stuff and actually used it were Black women. Black women understood why I didn’t shy away from color.” Harris' seal of approval is a full-circle moment.
Nikolas Ajagu in Dior Air Jordan 1s
While the fashion crowd was busy dissecting inauguration looks, sneakerheads were fixated on one thing: a pair of Dior Air Jordan 1s. It all started when the covetable sneakers were spotted in the background of the live TV stream. The brief glimmer of hype had all of us wondering: who showed up to the inauguration in the exclusive kicks valued at upwards of $30,000 on the resale market?
The internet quickly uncovered Sneaker bae's identity. The man with the dreamy kicks was Nikolas Ajagu, the husband of Meena Harris, Vice President Kamala Harris' niece, and the Second Family has never had more drip.
Ella Emhoff in Miu Miu
Speaking of Second Family drip. Sneaker bae, hold Ella Emhoff's purse, because she was Capitol Hill's true fashion icon yesterday.
At the inauguration, Emhoff, Vice President Harris' stepdaughter, and apparent fashion savant stole the show. Unlike the traditional prim – and forgettable – looks of government leaders' daughters, the 21-year-old textile designer brought her playful and eclectic style to her stepmother's historic swearing-in. She wore a Miu Miu Shetland Pied De Poule coat with embellished shoulders and signature Miu Miu collar, which she styled with her natural curls and John Lennon glasses.
Amanda Gorman in Prada
There was a lot of talk of Biden's inauguration symbolizing a brighter future, a new dawn. When she took the stage, Amanda Gorman radiated precisely that. In her yellow Prada coat and regal red headband, Gorman felt like a much-needed ray of sunshine.
She told Vogue that she wanted her outfit to illuminate her message. Choosing to wear Prada, because she admires the designer’s intellect and feminist position. The color yellow was decisive too, a nod to Dr. Jill Biden, who discovered Gorman after seeing a video of her reciting a poem wearing the color. “I am weaving my own type of symbolism into my outfit, and it’s really special and important to me to deliver these nuggets of information and sentimentality as I’m reciting the poem."
In the accessories department, Gorman got some help from Oprah, who gave her jewelry, including a pair of earrings and a ring in the shape of a caged bird — a nod to Angelou’s famous book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Bernie Sanders in Burton
If I had to choose someone to win the fashion category yesterday, I'd wholeheartedly pick Bernie Sanders, our anti-fashion icon. The Senator – and man we really wanted to become President – watched the inauguration from the stands in a distinctively Bernie winter wear look.
You might recognize his no-nonsense taupe parka by the Vermont-based snowboarding company Burton. It's the same windbreaker that Sanders wore in his viral “I Am Once Again Asking” campaign video that became an instant meme. Sanders paired the sensible jacket with a pair of chunky, hand-knit mittens made from recycled wool with an adorable backstory: they were a gift from Jen Ellis, a teacher and friend of Sanders’s daughter-in-law who makes knitted goods for craft fairs in her spare time.