The 2016 election cycle was one to remember. The effects of it were, and still are, life-altering in varying degrees of severity. Aside from its global, national, and human political implications, it also served as a clear reminder of fashion’s inextricable link to American politics.
There was much debate over whether or not brands should be dressing Melania Trump, a highly controversial figure, as the fashion industry was once wary of affiliating with any political party. Fearful of driving down sales, many designers outwardly refused to dress her, and Vogue endorsed a candidate for the first time in its history.
It has become abundantly clear over America’s recent political history that the impact of fashion and style on the way the public views political leaders is quiet yet powerful. Tracing the intersection of fashion and politics back to Jackie Onassis Kennedy, we can see just how important the optics of politics are. Jackie Kennedy’s characteristically chic attire still influences the way first ladies to present themselves. Hilary Clinton strategically wearing a white suit during much of her campaign was no mistake as it was an intentional nod to the suffragette movement of the early 1900s. Many congresswomen also chose to don white suits at President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address as a symbolic statement of solidarity and sisterhood. With the approaching presidential election, many fashion brands are rolling out pieces that encourage people to vote, making this election year more about preserving democracy than about endorsing a particular candidate. This upcoming election will no doubt be one of the most noteworthy in American history, but it also serves as a reminder of the influence of fashion on the expression and perception of values. And if someone hasn’t told you this yet today, remember to hit the polls! Your voice matters.