There’s a specific reason why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore white on swearing-in day

January 3rd, 2019 was a big day in Washington, D.C. Not only did Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) reclaim her place as speaker of a now-Democratic-majority House, but a wave of brave new congresswomen was also sworn in, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Never one to shy away from a bold statement, Ocasio-Cortez wore an all-white outfit for her swearing in, following in the footsteps of many political women before her including Hillary Clinton and Shirley Chisolm. White was a color of the women’s suffrage movement symbolizing purity of purpose, hence its popularity among modern political stars; other colors embraced by the suffragists included purple, symbolizing loyalty to the cause, and gold, which symbolized the torch guiding the movement. Today, the three colors make up the logo of the National Woman’s Party, an early suffrage group.


In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Valerie Steele, director of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology museum, said, “White has connotations in the west of purity and virtue, this idea of being the good guy. Certainly the suffragettes were aware of that when they wore white. They were good people too—why shouldn’t they have the right to vote?”

AOC was joined in making a sartorial statement by other new female representatives, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), one of the first Muslim women in Congress, and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Tlaib donned a Palestinian thobe made by her mother, honoring her West Bank roots.

And Haaland was decked out in traditional Pueblo attire.

The perfect way to kick off an exciting year of change.

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