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How AOC and Kamala Harris Became the Fashion Influencers of 2020




kamala harris, nancy pelosi, aoc mode


It seems several lifetimes ago, Michelle Obama shocked an audience imbued with haute couture-clad First Ladies by spinning through a kaleidoscope of young designers – Thakoon and Jason Wu among them. In his Netflix documentary To become, Obama addresses the pressures that led her to adopt the clothes as part of his message. “Women’s fashion still dominates the way people see you, and it’s not fair, it’s not fair. But it’s true, ”she said. With her picks, Obama moved the needle, proving that it’s possible to be a woman of substance and intelligence while still loving style.

kamala harris at the pride of san francisco in 2019

Kamala Harris at the Pride of San Francisco in 2019.

Justin sullivan

Now we have a running mate, Kamala Harris, who uses fashion choices as weapons in her arsenal. There was her rainbow-hued denim jacket, worn to celebrate pride in 2019, with symbolism so clear she didn’t have to say a word. She reports that she’s real with broken jeans and Converse sneakers in casual forums, but often tops them with armor – a dark cropped jacket of some sort. She wears jeans with a Hermès belt buckle and puts on beaded and studded jackets. The quality that unites all her choices: they are powerful clothes – no frills, no fuss.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Talks Sexism

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez opens up about sexism in July.

AP / Shutterstock

In 2020, female political leaders have become true style icons, arguably more influential than Hollywood celebrities and models who are paid to look good. Certainly, they attract a segment of consumers who are not inclined to shop under Beyoncé’s red carpet outfit. With bold color palettes, a simple cut, and bold lip colors, women in politics establish a non-traditional power look that shamelessly embraces fashion – an area once seen as synonymous with a lack of seriousness. Here’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teaching a lesson on sexism in a loose crimson blazer. There’s Stacey Abrams in a tight-fitting coral jacket and a lightly draped tee (and natural hair!) Explaining on MSNBC that her goals are to let people see her unabashed ambition. These women are famous brands – who doesn’t know that AOC prefers Stila’s Stay All Day liquid lipstick over Beso or that Nancy Pelosi donned a Max Mara coat after meeting President Trump? – in a way once reserved for First Ladies, and their choices are celebrated in fashion blogs and magazines.

Nancy Pelosi in mask and pantsuit

Nancy Pelosi, pictured in June in Washington, DC

Jared soares

They also sell clothes. Pelosi drove a race in colorful overcoats after her victory lap after the White House in the now famous coat she pulled out of her closet that winter morning in 2018; more recently, his color-coordinated masks have aroused widespread admiration. Ocasio-Cortez launched a legion of Stila coated lips. Dr Deborah Birx scarves have their own stan Instagram account. Yet the fashion choices of political leaders don’t always match red carpet labels and advertising budgets. These women work – just like the women who watch them.

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Kyrsten Sinema in a Senate vote in September.

Tom williamsGetty Images

The traditional DC primacy has been relaxed, led by an influx of young female leaders who have an intrepid relationship with fashion. Now we see Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema running to Congress with a lavender wig and mask (she supported social distancing and avoided barber shops). Governor Gretchen Whitmer, known as “The Michigan Woman” to President Trump, called criticisms of her February 2019 condition of her gender biased costume “garbage.” She later appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in crimson lipstick and a “That Woman From Michigan” T-shirt. It is now possible that in Harris, America will have its first female vice president. For their joint press conference, she and Joe Biden wore matching blue suits – but hers signaled modernity with an off-white knit shirt and a chic pearl and gold necklace. Whatever she does in the future, you can bet some powerful women will watch it and wear it.

This article appears in the November 2020 issue of ELLE.


Christina Binkley writes about what happens when pop culture and business merge.

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