The Fashion Files: Inauguration Edition

Clothing has the ability to tell a story, and the fashion of the women at the Inauguration did exactly that. It was simply smart fashion; it wasn’t about what they were wearing—it was about why they were wearing it.


Leah Snyderman

Leah Snyderman writes on all things fashion from industry updates, to collection reviews, to style tips in her column “The Fashion Files.”

     The world has always looked to America as an example of democracy, and after a long four year period where this position came into question, America has taken the title back. Inauguration Day looked different this year due to the pandemic, but, nevertheless, we have a new President and Vice President: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. While history was being made with the inauguration of the first woman Vice President, people from all over watched from their devices. As impactful as it is to hear the politicians and leaders speak, the first thing you notice when you watch really anything is the clothing. 

    This year, the fashion world was deprived; all of the major events, like the Met Gala, had been cancelled. The Inauguration fashion surely made up for it. 

     Fashion has always been a reflection of history. Clothing has the ability to tell a story, and the fashion of the women at the Inauguration did exactly that. It was simply smart fashion; it wasn’t about what they were wearing—it was about why they were wearing it.

     The night before the Inauguration, Joe and Jill Biden and Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff attended a memorial service for the lives lost from the COVID-19 pandemic. Joe Biden wore a suit by Ralph Lauren—a Bronx-born designer who built his career up and embodies the American Dream. 

     Jill Biden wore a deep purple dress and coat ensemble by Jonathan Cohen—another New York designer. Kamala Harris stepped out in a camel Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss coat, a black American designer. These two powerful looks set the tone for the rest of the Inauguration events. 

     Inauguration Day is what brought it all home. Jill Biden stepped out in a light blue tweed dress, coat, and matching mask by yet another New York brand: Markarian. Markarian is a young, fresh company that has been put into the spotlight because of Dr. Biden. The choice to wear a young, woman, independent designer during the time of a financial crisis sends a message that the Biden administration is serious about their economic plans, such as upping the stimulus check and aiming to help small businesses. 

     Vice President Harris wore a Christopher John Rogers monochrome purple coat and dress accessorized with her signature pearls. Rogers is another American based designer. 

     Michelle Obama made one of the biggest statements of the day in a monochrome plum trouser, turtle neck, and coat set by Sergio Hudson, a, once again, American designer with. This glamorous look contrasted with her 2017 Inauguration outfit for Donald Trump where she wore a modest dress with a ponytail. These two divergent looks mirrored the freedom many Americans felt on that day from being freed from Trump’s rule. 

     The first and second families also gained a lot of attention. The Biden granddaughters stepped out in monochrome looks with matchings masks. Natalie Biden sported a pink coat by Lafayette 148 New York while Naomi Biden went all white in Adam Lippes. One of my all time favorite designers, Brandon Maxwell, was worn by Finnegan Biden. Her camel coat and dress combination may have been my favorite of the day. Maisy Biden wore a chic navy suit with purple Air Jordan 1s.

     Later in the night at the celebration, Maisy switched into a new pair of Jordans and a dress by another one of my personal favorites, Rodarte, a California-based sister design duo. Natalie and Finnegan wore dresses by Markarian, the same brand their grandmother wore earlier that morning. 

     The second family certainly did not disappoint either. Ella Emhoff, Kamala Harris’s step daughter, served in a Miu Miu coat. The Parsons senior is no rookie to the fashion world, but it was an unexpected person who stole the show in Twitter’s minds: Nikolas Ajagu, the Vice President’s nephew-in-law. He was awarded “Secretary of Drip” for his Dior Air Jordan 1s. Twitter went wild once the rare, limited edition shoes were first spotted walking down the steps behind Amy Klobuchar. Immediately, an investigation began to find the mystery man wearing the iconic sneakers. Someone even photoshopped them onto Bernie Sanders.

     A common denominator for most of the looks was that they were all by American designers. This choice to go American supports homegrown talent and also the American economy. It signifies the new administration is committed to supporting domestic artistry. 

     The sea of purple across the two days also has a deeper meaning. Purple is made by mixing red and blue—the colors of the Republican and Democratic party, respectively. The Biden administration is committed to working with both sides to make sure America is the best it can be. 

     While the new President and Vice President were sworn in, former First Lady Melania Trump hightailed it to Florida. She got onto the plane in D.C. wearing an all black outfit with pieces by Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana, two European designers, accessorized with an extremely expensive Birkin bag, also by a European company, Hermés. It was a look of mourning, yet she stepped off the plane in a wild, colorful Gucci caftan dress, ready to be out of the political spotlight. Both looks were out of touch with the state of America, especially in contrast with those of the women of the new administration. All of their fashion choices say a lot about the transfer of power.    

     Fashion is a universal language, always playing a part in world events, whether it’s on the red carpet or the White House. The smart choices during the Inauguration reflect the hope and foreshadow the four years to come.