Democratic Women Keep Up Their Tradition of Wearing Suffragist White

In white pantsuits, turtlenecks and scarves, Democratic women stood out once again in a sea of dark suits at the State of the Union address on Thursday night, wearing suffragist white as a form of solidarity and protest against former President Donald J. Trump.

The fashion statement started during Mr. Trump’s presidency, when in 2017 he addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time and outlined his policy agenda. (Technically, there was no State of the Union that year.) Nancy Pelosi, then the speaker of the House, posted a picture of Democratic congresswomen wearing all white, saying that they did so to support of women’s rights when the president did not.

With the exception of 2018, when some Democratic women wore black in support of the #MeToo movement, many women have worn white at State of the Union addresses since.

In 2019, Democratic women in white pantsuits and blouses leaped up to applaud and high-five one another when Mr. Trump said a record number of women were serving in Congress, a century after the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote.

The outfits have evolved since 2017. At this year’s State of the Union, in addition to their white suit jackets, some women wore kente cloth, a traditional African textile, and others had pink accents, such as fuchsia pants and flower pins.

White, symbolizing purity, along with purple and gold, were the official colors of the National National Woman’s Party and the suffragist movement.

In decades past, women in politics have worn white in historic moments, including Geraldine Ferraro when she accepted her nomination as the first female candidate for vice president at the 1984 Democratic convention. Hillary Rodham Clinton frequently wore white on the campaign trail and did so when she accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016.

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