The Inaugural Runway: Style Lessons from the Presidential Inauguration

Wednesday, Jan. 20, was for me, and many Americans, more than the 59th Presidential Inauguration. It was a celebration of hope and the bright future ahead. Lady Gaga revived our patriotism, Jennifer Lopez modernized the suffragette aesthetic and Amanda Gorman brought us to tears with “The Hill We Climb.” I soaked up every speech, performance and, of course, the presidential swearing in (we can’t forget about that), but I must admit, my attentions were focused, as is my custom, on the fashion. Who was wearing what? And by whom? Where can I purchase said garment(s)? And if said garment is completely unattainable, where and how can I find a close duplicate?  

For such a momentous occasion, the looks certainly didn’t disappoint. They were refreshing and thoughtful — filled with personality and character. We’ve all heard the phrase “fashion is a form of self expression,” and these words rang truer than ever on our capital this January. 

It’s been two weeks and I still think about Amanda Gorman’s canary yellow Prada coat on the daily. I’m taking this as a sign to present three style lessons from the presidential inauguration.

Throw the Rules of Formal Wear Out the Window 

This is 2021. We’re in a pandemic. Sweats are the new jeans and sneakers are the new heels. We first saw this sentiment on display with Nikolas Ajagu, the husband of Kamala Harris’s niece, Meena Harris, and his Jordan Dior 1s. This was everything I needed and more. Just imagine going down in history as the man who pulled up to a presidential inauguration with a luxury Parisian sneaker. Goals. In case you aren’t familiar, the Jordan Dior 1s were released last year by Dior in their first ever collaboration with Jordan Brand. The shoe originally retailed for $2,000 but now resells for upwards of $10,000. I applaud Ajagu for his boldness, and for breathing trendiness into a space that has traditionally been viewed as stuffy and intimidatingly formal. It may seem trivial, but streetwear’s diverse roots bond our nation. A pair of Jordans is as American as  apple pie or Levi denim.

Maisy Biden echoed Ajagu’s energy by pairing her navy outfit with what appeared to be the Jordan 1 lows. She looked cooler than ever. Plus, we got a glimpse of her personality. Maisy’s clearly a sneaker enthusiast, and she’s an avid basketball player. 

So next time you’re invited to a presidential inauguration, or large group gathering with 100% capacity (as if), think twice before you reach for your heels. You might want to surprise everyone with a Maisy moment.

Monochrome is Elite

If I were to summarize this inauguration, I would say Biden, Harris and the magic of monochrome. This trend truly transcended the generation gap and was impossible to miss. Natalie Biden was unforgettable in her pink custom Lafayette 148 New York coat and mask. I even saw a tweet comparing her to Blossom, the pink Powerpuff Girl. Michelle Obama’s “wineberry plum” ensemble was a showstopper. And Hillary Clinton represented with a wildcat purple pantsuit. 

Monochrome outfits exude confidence and sophistication. There is something so powerful about strutting around in one shade. It screams “I’m confident enough to commit to one color, and I’m not afraid to show it.” The simplicity of monochromatism is equally alluring. Having difficulty pairing colors? Stop worrying and layer on five shades of the same color. Voila! If all pink or purple is a little too much for your zoom fashion appetite, opt for browns, creams or grays. After all, brown is kind of having a moment right now. On that note, this style guide won’t be complete without addressing Natalie’s spectacular suede, knee high, caramel slouch boots: straight out of Serena’s closet from Gossip Girl. 

When in Doubt, Bundle Yourself like Bernie (aka 2021’s hottest fashion influencer)

On Jan. 24, the term “Bundled Like Bernie” was added to Urban Dictionary. It trended for days with almost 3,000 likes. The term is defined by Talk2me-JCH as “Referring to the heavy unfashionable winter jacket and patterned mittens Sanders wore to the inauguration of Joe Biden.” Before I dive into the style takeaways, I would just like to mention my disapproval with Talk2me-JCH’s use of the term “unfashionable.” Just because something is puffy and utilitarian doesn’t relegate it to frump status, something I remind myself of constantly when sporting my past-the-knee parka. Next time you’re traversing Sheridan Road in the bitter cold, I advise you to shamelessly channel your inner Bernie. Cozy up with your 80s inspired olive wool mittens and stay bundled like Bernie — at least for a couple more months.