During her first speech as the Vice President-Elect in Wilmington, Delaware, Kamala Harris not only delivered an impressive word, but was dressed to impress. As she made an entrance to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” we all gushed over her white pants suit. Though it was a great outfit, it symbolized more than her keen fashion sense.
Wearing white was an ode to the Women’s Suffrage movement, a collective fight that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Women who were involved in the movement often wore white. According to Vogue, The National Woman’s Party’s colors were white, gold and purple with white deemed “the emblem of purity.” Black women in the Suffrage movement also wore white when they protested lynching and discrimination.
“African American or working-class women used the color white not only to support the suffrage cause but also to show their own respectability in the public sphere and say ‘we’re pure, we’re moral and respectable women’,” Case Western Reserve University history professor Einav Rabinovitch-Fox told Teen Vogue.
Women who have competed for a seat in the White House have also worn white during historic times in their career. Harris followed in the footsteps of Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to run for vice president, and donned a white suit when she accepted the Democratic party’s nomination in 1984. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to Congress, was dressed in all-white for her first day.
Harris gave some insight into the meaning behind her white pants suit during her victory speech.
All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: One hundred years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision—to see what can be unburdened by what has been—I stand on their shoulders.
The suit was by Carolina Herrera and she accompanied it with a pussybow blouse and nude heels instead of her trademark Converses.