What Kamala Harris wanted to say with her white pantsuit


Fashion Thesis

The message behind the white pantsuit by Kamala Harris

For her first speech as Vice President-Elect of the USA, Kamala Harris chose a white pantsuit. This had strong symbolic power.

The first two (visually and thus symbolically) most important moments in Kamala Harris' new life as future Vice President of the USA could hardly be more different. One took place outside on a street, the other on the big stage; one shows her alone with her bodyguards and Joe Biden on the phone, the other with an audience. Both had the whole world as an audience - and both were equally important in Harris' performance.

So the first moment: While jogging, she took a break, as shown on her Instagram account, to call the president-elect and say "We did it, Joe", followed by a seemingly relieved, honest and excited laugh - the numbers from the polling stations of Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada confirmed the Democratic victory after endless days of waiting. So the first thing Harris posted on their social media channels was a video of this call, them in simple gray and black jogging dresses from Nike, with sunglasses from the Berlin-based eyewear label Mykita.

This unpretentious appearance had a clear message: it was direct, it was authentic. Her clothes were what countless American women wear every day to exercise. It is clear to everyone that this is what a vice president does - although she openly demonstrates this, it is something else again: a decision to make it clear how close she is and wants to stay close to the reality of the people she will be co-governing in the future.

She wore what you wear when you do sports. It goes without saying that she presented Nike, a US-American brand.

Homage to the women's rights movement

On her second appearance, however, on the big stage, Harris' Look sent explicitly political messages. The white pantsuit she wore in her first speech as Vice President-elect of the USA was not just fashion. It was pure textile politics, a symbol of Harris's achievement, which now culminates in her role as Vice President.

A white pantsuit is not just a pantsuit. Harris had often opted for pantsuits during her election campaign appearances; incidentally, sometimes combined with sneakers. But in white, a pantsuit is a homage to the US suffragettes. The early women's rights movement chose white as its color for the fight for their rights. The "Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage" justified this in a statement in 1913, stating that pure white reflected the "quality of their intentions".

Not only does Harris want to assert this "quality of her intentions" for herself, but obviously this is also a feminist statement by the first vice president of the USA, the first woman in this role, the first black woman in this role: a homage to her pre-fighters from earlier times. Other female Democratic politicians also chose to appear in white before Harris, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Nancy Pelosi. The latter, for example, as part of a group of several women democrats who wore white as a united protest during a performance by Donald Trump in February 2019.

One look, many statements

In her speech in the white suit, Harris spoke in emotional words of how she is "the first woman in this position, but certainly not the last. The suit was thus the underlining symbol for past and future. The contrast to, for example, Ivanka Trump, who had also chosen white suits in the past, could not be greater: Harris had been a champion of women's rights throughout her long career, while Trump had been given power in the country by her father, she had nothing to fight for. Her and her father's political views stand for the opposite of the idea of a modern woman (and thus a modern society), for which the suffragettes fought so hard.

In her speech, Kamala Harris also followed her fashionable expressiveness with words. She paid homage "to all the women who have worked for over a century to secure and protect the right to vote: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women who voted and continued to fight for the right to be heard. That night, she reflected "her struggle, her determination and the strength of her vision," and "she stood on her shoulders," Harris said. The pantsuit was intended to underscore these words.

Just as important in Harris' speech look: the champagne-colored sloppy blouse Harris' wore under his suit. In English this is called the "Pussybow Blouse". On the one hand it could be understood as a side blow to Donald Trump and his "Grab her by the pussy" slogan. On the other hand, in the early days of emancipation, when women entered offices and the working world, sloppy blouses became a kind of work uniform; the sloop became something like the feminine version of the tie. So Harris's blouse sends a message of tackling and at the same time has something official about it. It says: I am the first employee of my state.

By the way, Harris' suit was designed by Carolina Herrera, a US designer who built her business from the ground up. In purely fashion terms - politics aside - Harris' look was reminiscent of style icons like Bianca Jagger, of the optimism of the 1970s, of joie de vivre, of hope for a better world.


Note: original article from https://bellevue.nzz.ch/mode-beauty/was-kamala-harris-mit-ihrem-weissen-hosenanzug-aussagen-wollte-ld.1586017