From Kamala Harris to Michelle Obama: Purple was a popular colour at the inauguration

The New York Times
Washington DCWritten By: Jennifer Steinhauer © 2020 The New York TimesUpdated: Jan 21, 2021, 11:29 AM IST


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The theme of the Biden inauguration was 'America United,' and the colour of the day seemed to be purple — the shade that bridges the divide by bringing both colors together. 

Forget red and blue (states). The theme of the Biden inauguration was “America United,” and the colour of the day seemed to be purple — the shade that bridges the divide by bringing both colours together (not to mention one of the original signature colours of the suffragists, whose dreams are now being realized with the first female vice president).

“Purple is the colour of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause,” the National Woman’s Party wrote in a newsletter in 1913.

Though Jill Biden coordinated her blue Markarian coat with her husband’s blue Ralph Lauren tie, Vice President Kamala Harris served up a bipartisan message in a bright single-breasted coat and dress from Christopher John Rodgers, as did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a grape Ralph Lauren pantsuit. And Michelle Obama, the former first lady, wore wine trousers with a coordinated turtleneck and long coat from Sergio Hudson, a young Black designer.

Masks were also part of the material culture of this inauguration. Jill Biden wore a sky blue mask that appeared custom-made to match her coat, and other members of her family chose a similar monochromatic theme. Harris opted for a shiny black number that complimented her purple outfit, one of her signature mask looks.

Many men opted for paper medical masks, but a few went for solid shades or face coverings that featured insignia. Former President George W. Bush sported a mask made by Rhoback, a company that was started by former Capitol Hill staffers.

Despite the very high fashion content of President Joe Biden’s swearing-in, which included Lady Gaga in a veritable ballgown from Schiaparelli, Ella Emhoff in a crystal-dusted tweed Miu Miu coat with a big white collar; and Jennifer Lopez in winter white Chanel, it was Sen. Bernie Sanders, not normally known for his style statements, whose choice of accessories may have had the widest effect. Specifically, Sanders’ woolly mittens, in a sort of brown and cream Himalayan sweater pattern, seemed to have charmed practically half the social media world, with commenters asking where they could buy a pair.

The mittens quickly got their own hashtag: #Berniesmittens. Even Vogue took note. Jen Ellis, a Vermont schoolteacher, claimed ownership in a tweet.

“I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple of years ago,” she wrote, posting a photo of other similar creations. “They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles).”

In response a friend noted, “you better buy some titanium knitting-needles lol, you’ll need them, you just became the world’s most famous ‘mitten knitter’.” And thus the new administration appears to be keeping its vow to jump-start small businesses already.