On Wednesday, Jan. 20, as America watched the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, former presidents, first ladies, and other high-ranking officials gathered at the U.S. Capitol, the very building where a mob threatened American democracy on Jan. 6. It’s been a tense two weeks since, but at the ceremony, many attendees sent a subtle message of unity with their wardrobe choices. While tradition sees Democrats wear blue and Republicans wear red, many at the ceremony donned purple, a combination of red and blue that’s seen as a symbol of bipartisanship. It spoke to the theme of Biden’s inauguration: “America United,” but it also has another hidden meaning.
Along with white and gold, purple covered the flag of the National Woman’s Party in the United States, which demanded women’s suffrage in the early 20th century. In a newsletter published Dec. 6, 1913, the organization explained: “Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause,” according to the National Park Service.
While they all chose different shades, women on both sides of the political spectrum sent messages of peace with their purple outfits as Biden and Harris were sworn in. Read on to see some of the prominent women in purple at the ceremony. And for images of what it took to make the ceremony safe, here are The Most Jarring Photos of D.C. Preparing for the Inauguration.
The Vice President wore a suit by Christopher John Rogers to be sworn in.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arrived at the inauguration, with the former first lady wearing a coat and suit by Sergio Hudson.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush and Laura Bush also attended the ceremony, where the former first lady donned lavender.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrived with former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who wore a purple suit and scarf. She also chose purple for her concession speech four years ago, Marie Claire notes.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, also wore a purple face mask and purple Planned Parenthood scarf to the inauguration ceremony. And for more news updates from Biden’s administration, see why a New White House Adviser Says This One Thing Is About to Make COVID Worse.