All the Statement-Making Fashion You Might Have Missed at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration

From a mask with a message to a meaningful brooch, the 2021 Presidential Inauguration not only featured the swearing in of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but also a lot of significant style.

By Samantha Schnurr Jan 21, 2021 2:26 PMTags

On Inauguration Day, the clothes were not quiet. 

As the world had their eyes glued on America's historic day on Wednesday, Jan. 20, it was hard not to notice the fashion that came along with it. From Vice President Kamala Harris' vibrant purple ensemble to the sizable brooch adorned over the bust of performer Lady Gaga, the sartorial statements were sprinkled not so subtly throughout the milestone event. 

From brand decisions to purposeful accessories, much goes into picking an outfit for such a monumental public occasion, especially one being broadcast around the world and documented in photos, tweets and the like for decades to come. 

So of course, with much to take in on this tremendous milestone, it's possible you might have missed some of these meaningful style details—and that's where we come in. Whether it was a mask adorned with a message or Bernie Sanders' mittens, E! News has a breakdown of the fashion you need to see and the stories behind it all. 

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' 2021 Inauguration in Photos

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History Chicly Repeats Itself

Kamala Harris' great-nieces were fabulously dressed for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration in faux fur leopard coats by female-founded iloveplum. The coats doubled as a tribute to Kamala and the historic occasion as they mirrored an animal-print coat she wore as a child. As Meena Harris wrote of the twinning fashion moment, "Special coats to look just like Auntie's."


A Ringing Statement

While people watching around the world were captivated by Amanda Gorman, who performed her powerful poem, "The Hill We Climb," during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, they may have missed the significant ring on her right hand. "I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in," the 22-year-old later tweeted. "While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion, to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here's to the women who have climbed my hills before."

Pinpointing Pearls

Pearls had many meanings on Inauguration Day in 2021. Not only have they historically been a feminine accessory, but also one purported to symbolize purity, wisdom and new beginnings. It was an accessory worn by late boundary-breaking Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and, more recently, has been associated with Vice President Kamala Harris, who has sported a strand of pearls at milestone moments during her life. That was once again the case on Wednesday as she was sworn in as the first female Vice President while wearing a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. Pearls are also a symbol of solidarity for Harris' Howard University sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which gives its members a badge embellished with pearls. As women around the country proudly donned their own strands in honor of Harris' historic day, so did notable public figures including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, First Lady Jill Biden and former First Lady Laura Bush. "Pearls represent refinement and wisdom," Glenda Glover, international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, told Vanity Fair. "We train young ladies to be leaders and to make sure they have the wisdom to lead." 

A Mask With a Message

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, attendees at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration arrived with one extra accessory: a face mask. Though mouths were covered, President Bill Clinton still made a statement with help from his mask, which displayed three powerful words, "We the people."

Bernie's Mittens

When Senator Bernie Sanders arrived to the Capitol for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, he did so wearing a pair of mittens. In addition to helping the former Democratic presidential hopeful keep warm while standing outside in January, the gloves also have a special story. According to BuzzFeed News political reporter Ruby Cramer, the mittens were made by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. Cramer reported Ellis gave Sanders the gloves several years ago and he went on to wear them during his campaign for president. 

Style Star Spotted

Second Daughter Ella Emhoff made a sartorial splash at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration with a beaded, plaid Miu Miu coat that instantly caught people's attention online and has since been getting rave reviews. As one tweet put it, "Excited for Ella Emhoff to become a style icon over the next four years."

Designer Decisions

As the first Black vice president, Kamala Harris shined a spotlight on Black designers for her historic moment when she sported an ensemble by Christopher John Rogers, a Black American designer. 

Crossing Party Lines

While less attention has historically been paid to male presidential style, President Joe Biden's fashion choice for the landmark occasion should not be overlooked. The newly inaugurated 46th president sported a navy suit paired with a navy overcoat, both by Ralph Lauren. Lauren, an iconic designer synonymous with American fashion, has dressed White House figures for years, notably from both political parties. 

Extending an Olive Branch

As Lady Gaga stepped out to perform the National Anthem, she did so with a very visible accessory by Schiaparelli Haute Couture: a gilded brooch of a dove carrying an olive branch. The image is historically considered a symbol of peace, something the star has been vocal about leading into Inauguration Day. "I pray tomorrow will be a day of peace for all Americans," she wrote on Instagram on Jan. 19. "A day for love, not hatred. A day for acceptance not fear. A day for dreaming of our future joy as a country. A dream that is non-violent, a dream that provides safety for our souls. Love, from the Capitol." As she later echoed on Wednesday on social media, "A dove carrying an olive branch. May we all make peace with each other."

The Power of Purple

A standout color on Inauguration Day was purple, sported by some of the country's most prominent female figures: First Lady Michelle Obama in Sergio Hudson, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Ralph Lauren and Vice President Kamala Harris in Christopher John Rogers. The color, which Clinton memorably wore for her concession speech in 2016, is said to represent bipartisanship as it is a mix of blue and red, the colors associated with the Democratic and Republican parties and also the ones featured on the American flag. Purple is also historically associated with the suffragettes and with late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Obama's stylist Meredith Koop later clarified, "You can call it berry, wine, plum or burgundy. I'm calling it wineberry plum for the moment. What it wasn't was bi-partisan purple. That's a cute story, but it wasn't the intention."

A Sparkling First Lady

Donning New York City-based and female-founded brand Markarian, First Lady Jill Biden stood out in an ocean blue ensemble said by the brand to signify "trust, confidence, and stability." As a glamorous detail, the coat was adorned with Swarovski crystals, which made the new first lady sparkle in the light. 

Suffragette White

On a historic day for women given the inauguration as Kamala Harris as America's first female vice president, white was an anticipated shade due to its ties to the history of women's suffrage and its continued symbolism of women's rights. It was on full display thanks in part to one of the inauguration's A-list performersJennifer Lopez, who donned head-to-toe white in the form of a Chanel pantsuit.