Kamala Harris made a statement by wearing a head-to-toe white for her victory speech
- US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won the 2020 presidential election.
- While giving a victory speech on Saturday night, Harris made a statement with her outfit, a white suit by designer Carolina Herrera.
- Harris' ensemble was packed with symbolism. Her choice to wear white is a tribute to suffragettes, and the bow on her blouse is also said to have feminist roots.
- The vice president-elect's outfit was also an example of monochromatic dressing, which historians pointed out can be used to denote celebration in the black community.
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Kamala Harris has made history as the first female, black, and Asian American projected US vice president-elect.
When she took the stage in Wilmington, Delaware, to address the nation on Saturday night, Harris paid homage to the women who came before her — not only with her widely lauded speech, where she acknowledged the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment; but also through her style choices, which were full of symbolism.
Harris wore head-to-toe white, a way of paying tribute to the suffragists
The vice president-elect's all-white suit, which Vogue reported is from the New York-based, female-founded fashion brand Carolina Herrera, is a nod to the suffragists.
According to the National Park Service, the American suffrage organisation, the National Woman's Party, designated white, gold, and purple as their official colours. A newsletter from the organisation published on December 6, 1913, outlines the meaning of each hue.
"White, the emblem of purity, symbolizes the quality of our purpose," the newsletter said.
Suffragette white caught on as a singular colour of the movement. American suffragists were once portrayed in popular culture and political cartoons as masculine characters, so while marching in parades, women fighting for the right to vote started wearing feminine, all-white dresses to combat the stereotypes that perpetuated in the media.
In recent years, Democratic congresswomen have chosen to wear all-white outfits as a nod to the suffragists on a variety of occasions, most notably while attending US President Donald Trump's State of the Union addresses.
Harris' blouse also included a small but symbolic detail
Harris paired her suit with an off-white blouse with a loosely tied bow around the neck, which people were quick to take note of during her speech.
â€œThough I will be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last" - Kamala Harris, the first woman to be vice president, the first Black woman to be vice president, the first woman of South Asian descent to be vp (wearing suffragette white and a power pussy bow blouse) https://t.co/OHNI2vm9gx— Amy Kuperinsky (@AmyKup) November 8, 2020
The necktie style is called a lavallière but is also referred to, more casually, as a "pussy bow" or "pussycat bow," and it's thought to have roots in female empowerment.
The blouse style became popular in the '80s when more American women began taking on executive positions in corporate environments, according to Quartz. The movement led to a new way of dressing, and many corporate women at the time took on styles similar to their male counterparts, but with an added touch — the decorative bow.
The blouse style not only became popular as office attire, but it's also made its way into politics. Even former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was said to like the bowtie's "softening" effect, according to the Guardian.
In 2016, Melania Trump sparked controversy when she wore a hot-pink "pussy bow" blouse to attend the presidential debate. There was speculation that the top was a purposeful reference to the silhouette's roots in female empowerment, as the debate came a day after the Washington Post released then-candidate Donald Trump's derogatory Access Hollywood tape. But the Trump campaign denied that Melania's blouse was making any sort of intentional statement.
Harris' outfit was an example of monochromatic dressing, which holds significance in the black community
Shelby Ivey Christie, a fashion and costume historian, pointed out in a tweet shortly after Harris' speech Saturday night that monochromatic dressing often signifies "celebration in the black community."
"Monochromatic dressing in the black community is very purposeful + is/was a tool used to communicate political + spiritual beliefs," Christie said in a post from June. "If we're dressed in one colour head-to-toe, know it's lit," she added in a tweet on Saturday.
—Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) November 8, 2020
A 2018 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer by Cassie Owens explores the historical and cultural significance of monochromatic dressing, referencing examples such as black church choirs' colour-coordinated ensembles and black jazz musicians, who "popularised colour-coordinated suits throughout the jazz age."
Harris' victory speech style exemplified the empowering message she gave
"One hundred years ago was the 19th Amendment. Fifty-five years ago was the Voting Rights Act. And now in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continue to fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard," Harris said on Saturday.
Meena Harris, the vice president-elect's niece, shared a picture of her two daughters holding hands with their great-aunt on Saturday, representing a younger generation of girls and women who witnessed a historic moment.
"VICE PRESIDENT AUNTIE," Meena Harris wrote.
—Meena Harris (@meenaharris) November 8, 2020
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