Fashion’s Biggest Moments at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration

Despite a pandemic taking a toll on us all, fashion prevailed in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20 as President Joe Biden was sworn into office. In a symbol of patriotism, the designers that dressed the Bidens, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, were American.

Both Biden and  Emhoff were dressed in sleek, fitted suits designed by Ralph Lauren, a native New Yorker and classic American designer who began his empire by designing ties.

First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, wore a monochrome ensemble designed by up-and-coming New York designer, Alexandria O’Neill of the label Markarian. O’Neill founded Markarian in 2017 and has since been dressing celebrities in her signature gowns for red carpets and events. She worked on Dr. Biden’s teal, jewel-tone ensemble for many months prior to the inauguration, curating a  monochrome look which included a matching mask.

Harris wore an exceptional purple dress and overcoat designed by Christopher John Rogers in another monochrome moment. Christopher John Rogers, a Black designer, had a special moment during New York Fashion Week in 2019 as his models floated down the runway in extravagant gowns and pantsuits of neon colors. Since then, his pieces have been featured everywhere and Rogers has become an everyday name in high fashion. Dressing Harris in purple was no coincidence. Harris’ look was a nod to the women’s suffrage movement and the long battle women fought to earn their voice. Harris celebrated history while wearing Rogers, becoming the first woman, and woman of color to serve as second-in-command. 

The Obamas were also in attendance for Biden’s Inauguration, with Barack in a sleek longline coat over a dashing suit. The real show stopper of the duo was Michelle, who was dressed in a three piece, wine colored, waist-cinching outfit by Black designer, Sergio Hudson.

For the younger crowd, Harris’ step-daughter, Ella Emhoff, turned heads in a chic, fitted  MiuMiu tweed, longline coat with a white color and amber jewels on the shoulders. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman glowed on stage as she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” wearing a bright yellow Prada coat and accessorizing with a thick red headband.

There were also other notable attendees at the inauguration, such as Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez. Gaga sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in a Schiaparelli Haute Couture gown, decorated with a giant golden dove broach, symbolizing peace. Lopez wore an all-white Chanel ensemble for her performance of “This Land is Your Land.”

Last, but certainly not least, the man of the hour, the height of inaugural fashion, Senator Bernie Sanders, is pictured sitting socially distanced, in an olive green outdoor coat, accessorized with wool mittens. These mittens were made by Vermont schoolteacher, Jen Ellis. Ellis has become an overnight sensation as the memes depicting Sander’s now-famous outfit and demeanor flooded the internet. Ellis made these mittens from repurposed wool sweaters with a fleece lining from recycled plastic bottles. Not only are they sustainable, they are adorable. Sanders wearing Ellis’s mittens displays an important message of Sanders being one for the people, and to embrace sustainable fashion and support local businesses. Ellis does have a store on Etsy, but is not currently selling mittens. 

The fashion from Inauguration Day provided entertainment, meaning and value for the American people. The men in American made suits showed patriotism and sophistication. The youth in bright colors symbolized bright futures; the women in history driven designs. All eyes have been on the First Lady’s Inauguration outfit for years, specifically since Jackie Kennedy’s baby blue wool coat with a matching pillbox hat. Many First Lady’s have taken after the regalness of Kennedy such as Betty Ford, Nancy Regan, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Melania Trump and now Dr. Jill Biden, who paid homage to her through monochromatic pieces, teal colors and similar designs. 

The fashion of the Inauguration will continue to be timeless. It takes from traditions of the past while evolving for a better tomorrow. With this idea in mind, the future of fashion is looking bright.