Political dress has a long and thorough history; red ties for the Republican party, blue for the Democratic party, and so on. Often, fashion is highly symbolic when incorporated in politics – it is a statement. And while it is not traditionally feminist to analyze what a woman in politics was-wearing-when, 2020 Vice President elect Kamala Harris was apt to make one of these statements during her acceptance speech after a long and grueling election week. At the end of that week, Harris became the first Asian-American Black person to become the Vice President of the United States, as well as the first woman in history to hold such a high position in American government.
Perhaps even more notable than the extravagant firework display was Harris’ outfit: a white pantsuit.
The color white has an extraordinary meaning in fashion and politics. White is the official color of the suffragette movement, a movement that occurred over a century ago to establish the right for women to vote. Long story short, white was implemented as the official color because every woman, rich or poor, had a white garment; meaning, everyone who wanted to despite their class could join the movement.
Since then, women in politics have made bold statements by wearing the color white. We saw Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro wear the color at her nomination acceptance speech in 1984. More recently, we saw it on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she was sworn in as the youngest member of congress in its history, and on Hillary Clinton in 2016 when she accepted the Democratic nomination for President.
All of this is not to mention the pantsuit; for so long, women were confined to dresses and corsets. Now, women can wear pants; and they can be politicians too.
Women, overtime, have edged so close to winning. Hillary Clinton was almost president (with the popular vote, I should add). We have powerful women sitting in incredible positions in politics, and as of last week, we now have a woman of color sitting in one of the highest and most powerful positions possible. It was a monumental moment for women in America, and by wearing the color white, Kamala Harris confirmed her dedication and support for American women.