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Deep Blue and Purple Fashion Reign Supreme at Inauguration 2021

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Followers of fashion will want to know what the sartorial message was at the 2021 Inauguration. While the evening festivities are still to come, the proceedings last night and this morning had a clear through-line. Deep blue and purple fashion reigned among the power women at Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Setting a mood that was serious, purposeful, mournful and perfectly right for the moment we’re in right now.

color and fashion diplomacy at Inauguration 2021

What are we to make of the color palette of the Biden Inauguration? We believe that color and silhouette speak more loudly to the current day and also to history than most words uttered on big days like this one. What was the unspoken fashion diplomacy on display in Washington DC over the past 24 hours?

Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama
Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Deep Blue and Purple Fashion Reign Supreme at Inauguration 2021

Mood indigo is how we would summarize the overwhelming message from the collective fashion images on display in DC for Inauguration 2021.

Throughout the two events that were up first on the schedule, almost every power player adhered to a strictly minimalist and largely monochrome range of shades from powder blue through navy blue to plum and deep purple.

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a beam of light and the diva exception

The Inauguration fashion cliché is a palette of red, white and blue. And yet at Inauguration 2021, that upspoken rule was upended.

There was no red (with the exception of Lady Gaga’s skirt, and of course we will always make an exception for her). No white (except for Jennifer Lopez, and again the diva exception applies). There were also no prints, and very little flash and bling in terms of jewelry.

However, there was a single ray of light in the vibrant yellow suit of the 22-year old poet Amanda Gorman, with her marvelous voice, regal demeanor and wizardry with words.

Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Photo Credit: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.

With that one exception the tone was somber. melancholy, un-showy, serious. There was a palpable sense of grief and loss. The color palette was evocative of a bruise in the process of healing. In the shades of blue, there was a tentative hint of brighter days. That feels right to us.

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a moving memorial

The first event of the Inaugural ceremonies was a deeply moving memorial ceremony held on Inauguration Eve at the Reflecting Pool that stretches from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

For her arrival in Washington DC and her first major event, Dr. Jill Biden wore a stunning and simple purple coat and dress (and of-the-moment colored leather gloves).

It set the tone for the evening, and for what was to come. And it seemed to perfectly meet the moment, which was one of grief and sorrow, and prayers for those lost to COVID-19 and their families and friends.

the sea and the sky

The color blue was the primary color of the day on Inauguration Morning. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; and former First lady Laura Bush all wore lighter shades of blue for the Swearing-In ceremony. Dr. Biden’s ensemble was designed by young American designer Alexandra O’Neill, who founded her label Markarian in 2017.

Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Photo Credit: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES.

This is not a blue of the military, or sailors. Some would describe it as periwinkle. A shade of blue with elements of purple, silver and green. It reminded us of the color of a lake, or the sea, or the sky.

A color that suggests depth and the wild freedom of the unknown. And the possible.

Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

It’s the blue of a sky in transition from one daypart to another. As the patriotic songs say, the hue of the endless skyway. A color that can stretch from sea to shining sea.

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The Inaugural poet’s brilliant poem makes another reference that also rings true: this blue is the color of the sea we must wade through as a nation in these challenging times.

Ultimately, we think these blues were meant to convey the feeling of the dawning of a new day. As one of the speakers at the ceremony quoted: “Weeping may endure for a night – but joy comes in the morning.” 

the color purple

The color purple is making a comeback in this new era of American leadership. Former First Lady Michelle Obama famously wore purple frequently during the first campaign and the early days of the Obama Administration.

Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

The symbolism is lost on no one: no red states or blue states – just the United States. Purple is historically associated with nobility, and its also the original color favored by the suffragettes.

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama wore a truly masterful ensemble in hue somewhere between plum, burgundy and purple at Inauguration 2021. So did former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Photo Credit: MELINA MARA/GETTY IMAGES.

And of course, Madame Vice President Kamala Harris wore a purple coat to assume her role and make history. She wore it over a knit that was subtly different but all part of the same color family. The two pieces were designed by Sergio Hudson and Christopher John Rodgers, two young African American designers from the American South.

Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama
Power women and fashion at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. Photo Credit: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES.

The emotional resonance of that was lost on no one.

The other common element that had nothing to do with color? The omnipresence of pearls. They’re a signature look for Vice President Harris. They were also an element of the attire of Representative Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for President. In fact, Representative Barbara Lee attending the swearing-in ceremony wearing a pearl necklace that belonged to Chisholm.

From Jennifer Lopez in Chanel to the First Lady, Vice President and many others, pearls were  everywhere at this Inauguration – as a nod to the women who came before us. And a gift that can passed along to the next generation.

color and fashion diplomacy at Inauguration 2021

Surely it’s not a coincidence that the fashion choices of the power women at the Inauguration 2021, including Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama, were in perfect coordination.

It’s clear that all of these women got together to discuss what they wanted to say to the world without speaking a word. Maybe they didn’t call each other the night before, but they clearly coordinated in a way that gives us real hope. The Girls Team is working in absolute solidarity – and they’re getting stuff done.

To which we say: Power to the purple! (and the blue). To the pearls! And to the people.

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Join our community! For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. 

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