If you watched the State of the Union address last night, you couldn’t miss it. Seated behind President Trump was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a white jacket and what news outlets debate was either a white or a pale lavender blouse. And there, amid the sea of conservative dark-suited men, were a slew of women clad in all white.
And there, amid the sea of conservative dark-suited men, were a slew of women clad in all white.
This eye-catching statement was led by the House Democratic Women’s Working Group. The color white has been long associated with the suffragette movement, when those who believed in women’s right to vote adopted the hue to communicate the purity and righteousness of the movement. Their white clothing was often accompanied with the color green for hope and purple for dignity in, say, brooches and the like.
The lawmakers wore white to express their solidarity as women in the government. Some outfits were more eye-catching than others: New York’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a sleek white cape, and Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar donned a white vest with a red top and a blue hijab for a bold statement in our nation’s signature shades.
Not a New Look in Government
This isn’t a new look for many female lawmakers—white has been a preferred color for appearances over the years, point out some pundits, with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro wearing it.
More recently, in 2017, a group of female Democrats were clad in white to attend the President’s joint address to Congress. Their goal: To boost visibility of the issues of equal pay on the job as well as reproductive rights, among other causes.
Of the wearing of white, Florida’s Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, who is the chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, told CNN, “Wearing suffragette white is a respectful message of solidarity with women across the country, and a declaration that we will not go back on our hard-earned rights.”
At this tense time in America, and especially after the president suggested rolling back some abortion rights in his speech, this show of sisterhood is an important one.