On Jan. 20, we saw the historic inauguration of Joe Biden, the 46th president of the United States. Amidst a year filled with chaos, terror, and social upheaval, I think we can all agree that this inauguration marked the beginning of a new America — a country ready to heal from the reopened wounds of the past and making the present a bit brighter and more beautiful. One of the main jaw-droppers of the day were the outfits — from the jewel tones to the pops of color, each outfit showcased a small personal statement, paying homage to our current moment in history. Here are my picks for the best outfits of the 2021 inauguration.
Michelle Obama saw, came, and CONQUERED! She strutted through the inauguration pavilion confidently, clad in a monochrome plum and burgundy look by Black designer Sergio Houston. She matched the outfit with a cinched golden statement belt, boots by Stuart Weitzman, a silk face mask, and the most luxurious-looking flowing locks, as if she had no choice but to embody grace, elegance, and charm.
Our new first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, made a poised appearance alongside her husband. She wore a lined turquoise dress, paired with a matching jacket, gloves, and wallet. To top off the ensemble, she wore nude heels and a turquoise silk face mask. The outfit was designed by young New York designer Alexandria O’Neill’s label Markarian.
The first female, South Asian, and Black vice president has arrived, making an unforgettable mark on our history. For her moment, Kamala Harris selected up-and-coming Black designer Christopher John Rodgers to dress her in a regal purple coat and dress. The color purple has often been used to signify bipartisanship, and as head of the Senate (with one of the closest ratios between parties in history) the message of working together has been sent.
Kamala Harris’s stepdaughter and artist in her own right Ella Emhoff first fell on my radar through her work — and then again on Inauguration Day with the stunning outfit choice. I found myself unable to focus on anything else as she entered, clad in one of the most surprising and glimmery choices of the morning. As reported by hundreds of fashion journalists scouring socials for the outfit credits, the long plaid coat with the bedazzled neckline-to-shoulders jewels belongs to none other than the always refreshing label Miu Miu.
Jennifer Lopez was invited to sing a medley of patriotic songs at the inauguration and managed to make a moment by addressing the nation in Spanish, even slipping in one of her own songs, throughout her performance. The artist’s glimmering white pants, ruffled blouse, long coat, and pearl earrings all belonged to the legendary fashion house Chanel.
One name that hasn’t left our minds throughout the pandemic is Lady Gaga. After dropping a studio concept album, raising millions of dollars for COVID relief, and fighting tirelessly for racial equality, she topped it all off with a breathtaking performance of the national anthem at the inauguration. For her larger-than-life performance, she needed an outfit to match — and Schiaparelli had just the thing. As she sang her heart out to the reinstatement of the nation, she wore a custom gown with a navy bodice and flowing red skirt with her hair pulled up into a blonde and black crown braid and wearing an unforgettably Hunger Games-esque golden dove brooch.
The first granddaughters, Natalie, Finnegan, Maisy, and Naomi Biden certainly turned heads upon their entrance into the nation’s capital. Naomi Biden, 27, wore a white blazer, blouse, and pants ensemble with a matching mask. Her sister, Finnegan, wore a caramel version of Naomi’s, with a caramel mask. Their youngest sister, Maisy, 20, wore a similar navy blue outfit, with a black mask. Their cousin Natalie, 16, daughter of the late Beau Biden, stood out in her bright pink Lafayette 148 coat and pants look, complete with a matching mask.
Amanda Gorman, poet and activist from Los Angeles, was truly the gem of the inauguration. Performing a spoken-word piece about building a country from the ashes of tyranny, recited with such a light in her eyes and spirit, in front of millions brought tears to every viewer’s eyes (including my own). It reminded me of what I needed to hear: that the light is there, if you have the courage to see it. For her moment in the national spotlight, she wore a sunny yellow Prada jacket, a white button-up shirt, a black leather shirt, and a red headband with pearls in her hair. She accessorized with jewelry given to her by Oprah Winfrey.