As the new Vice President for the United States, Kamala Harris is making history. Not only is she the first woman ever to hold the position, she’s also the first person of colour, the first of South Asian descent and the first child of immigrants to do so. And while the focus will chiefly be on the work she does alongside President Joe Biden to unite the country and guide the nation through the pandemic, her wardrobe will undoubtedly be closely watched, too. With a signature style of sharp blazer, slim trousers and pearls — paired with Converse for the campaign trail and heeled boots or stiletto court shoes for events — Harris has already become a significant fashion influence. Here, lean into the American VP’s contemporary suiting style with these tailored picks.
The costumes of politicians have always been a widely covered topic, and while women have tended to be more persistently reported on, the principle has been applied to men too — just look at the noted comparison between Barack Obama’s “cool dad” style and Donald Trump’s oversized suits. As Kamala Harris knows, clothing is a key tool for politicians to send a message, and with her sharp pantsuits and tailored coats, Harris is evidently telling us that it’s time to get down to business. Even her colour choices are symbolic — take, for example, the white Carolina Herrera suit she wore at the Democratic National Convention, offering a nod to the women’s movement with her use of the colour chosen by the Suffragettes to represent their movement in 1913. And in contrast to the bright colours worn by fellow trouser suit fan Hillary Clinton, Harris has largely stuck to subtle hues, perhaps a reminder that America is entering a new era, with a new type of female leader.
With her wardrobe, Harris has also shown her support for American designers, a practice that Michelle Obama was applauded for and which Melania Trump notably rejected, opting instead for European designers like Dolce and Gabbana (the only fashion label who were known to loan clothes to her). Harris’ choices have included both established American names such as Michael Kors, whose powder blue suit from the latest collection she wore for the digital Vogue cover, and young designers such as Joseph Altuzarra and Prabal Gurung, whose pieces she was often seen sporting on the campaign trail.
While her choices echo her championing of local talent, Harris’ clothing picks also reflect her acknowledgment of her historic position as the first person of colour to hold the Vice President title. Much like Michelle Obama, Harris’ outfits have featured pieces by a American designers from ethnically diverse backgrounds. For example, at the Covid-19 memorial event the night before the inauguration, Harris opted for a bespoke camel coat by Pyer Moss, the award-winning label by Haitian-American designer Kerby Jean-Raymond.
Beyond the symbolism of Harris’ wardrobe, her no-nonsense yet effortlessly stylish approach is likely to be highly influential in a way that has historically been reserved for First Ladies. From the more modern look of a tailored jacket worn over a t-shirt, to the monochromatic suits in tones of pink, blue and cream, Harris’ contemporary take on women’s workwear is sure to be adopted by women across the globe.