From Gaga’s Gown to V.P. Kamala’s Coat, the Inauguration Was a Feast for the Eyes

And a special shoutout for Bernie Sanders’s handmade mittens

Is there any fashion moment more consequential the inauguration of a new administration? From Jacqueline Kennedy to Nancy Reagan to Michelle Obama, images of First Ladies in stately coats and patriotic accessories are permanently burned into our collective image bank. And what will we remember of the first day of the Biden/Harris administration? Certainly, American designers—young and established—matching masks and coats, matching leather gloves and ensembles, and a whole lot of symbolic blue and purple. Will these become 2021 trends? We’d be surprised if they didn’t. After all, a new administration means an entire shift, not just in policy but emotion, stylistic symbolism, and optimism.

Vice President Kamala Harris

The night before her Inauguration, then-V.P.-elect Harris wore a chic, soft, camel coat from Haitian-American designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss, over a sleek, all-black ensemble. Recently, Pyer Moss turned its NYC offices into a distribution center for PPE to healthcare workers.

inauguration kamala harris

On Wednesday, Madam Veep Kamala Harris looked ready to get down to business in a bright purple dress and coat with sharp tailoring, created for her by Black American designers Christopher John Rogers (from Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and Sergio Hudson (from South Carolina). Of course, purple has a number of symbolic meanings: it stands not just for the coming together of blue and red states, but for royalty, power, wisdom, ambition, and loyalty. V.P. Harris may also have meant it as a tribute to the first African-American woman in the U.S. to run for president, Shirley Chisholm, whose campaign colors were purple and yellow. Harris accessorized with her traditional pearls, black pumps, and black leather gloves.

First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden

jill biden

On Tuesday, Dr. Jill Biden wore a matching purple-plum A-line coat with velvet tie belt and a dress by New York designer Jonathan Cohen. Both pieces are from Cohen’s fall/winter 2021 collection, which will be shown in February, but are actually available now for preorder (and what better way to promote them?). Her printed purple mask was also by Cohen, as were her blue-purple leather gloves; her nude pumps, called “Love,” were by Jimmy Choo.


First Lady Dr. Jill Biden wore a custom teal blue wool scalloped dress and matching overcoat by the brand Markarian, a New York luxury brand designed by Alexandra O’Neill. The coat featured a velvet shawl collar and cuffs. The brand issued this statement: “The color blue was chosen to signify trust, confidence, and stability.” Dr. Biden donned a matching blue pair Jimmy Choo “Romy” pumps.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama

michelle obama

Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

It looked like Michelle Obama was being sworn in as one of the chicest First Ladies of all time—she’s got Twitter and Instagram going crazy over her all burgundy monochromatic tailored maxi coat with shawl collar, and matching turtleneck and wide-leg trousers. The look was designed for her by Black designer Sergio Hudson, who has also dressed style icons Beyoncé and Rihanna. Michelle accessorized with black leather gloves and pointed toe boots, and a gold belted cinch waist belt. And how about that glorious hair?

Lady Gaga 

lady gaga gown

Win McNamee/Getty Images

To sing the national anthem, Lady Gaga wore another one of her spectacular ensembles: a Schiaparelli Haute Couture voluminous red silk faille skirt with a navy cashmere fitted jacket, embellished with an oversized golden dove brooch; she even carried a matching gold microphone. Schiaparelli designer Daniel Roseberry issued this statement: “As an American living in Paris, this ensemble is a love letter to the country I miss so dearly and to a performer whose artistry I have so long admired.”

Jennifer Lopez

jennifer lopez

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Multihyphenate superstar Jennifer Lopez donned an ecru and white long duster “fantasy tweed coat” from Chanel’s fall/winter 2020/2021 ready to wear collection, with matching Chanel white sequin wide-leg pants and white silk blouse from the fall/winter 2019/2020 ready to wear collection. She was accessorized with a Chanel belt, bracelets—and those chunky, blingy Chanel earrings that were on display from her high, Ariana Grande-style ponytail. Her “Max” platform shoes were also by Jimmy Choo

Ella Emhoff

Courtesy Miu Miu

Vice President Harris’s stepdaughter, textile designer Ella Emhoff, was wearing a Miu Miu Shetland Pied de Poule coat with embellishment detail and signature Miu Miu collar.

Bernie Sanders

bernie sanders mittens

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Look out for Vermont-style, old-school print mittens for men and women as winter’s coolest new accessory. Senator Sanders’s grey-and-tan woolly mittens were created by Jen Ellis, a Vermont teacher who gave them to Senator Sanders over two years ago. In keeping with Bernie’s environmentalism, the mittens are recycled and repurposed from old wool sweaters and lined with the fleece of recycled plastic bottles.

RELATED: Read Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’

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