Joining her husband, president-elect Joe Biden, on stage tonight in Wilmington, Delaware, Jill Biden wore an asymmetric floral dress by Oscar de la Renta, coral kitten heels, minimal jewelry, and the accessory of 2020, a simple black mask.
Biden chose an A-line silhouette with a draped collar and sleeves from the Oscar de la Renta resort 2020 collection. The dress telegraphed both the firmness and kindness she will bring to the role of first lady. Her approachable style has a precedent in that of her friend, former FLOTUS Michelle Obama.
The choice is notable because it was designed by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, both immigrants to the United States who trained under Oscar de la Renta (himself an immigrant from the Dominican Republic). Garcia and Kim took over the label in 2016, two years after de la Renta’s death. The piece is currently available on the Outnet.
During his address to the nation, the president-elect put his wife front and center. “As I said many times before, I’m Jill’s husband,” he began, underscoring the importance of his wife and family. “Jill’s a mom—a military mom—and an educator. She has dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does—it’s who she is. For America’s educators, this is a great day: You’re going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill is going to make a great first lady.”
Kamala Harris has two modes: The hardass District Attorney or the hardass auntie. When she’s in DA mode, Kamala can be ruthless and no-nonsense, cutting down horserace veterans like Joe Biden with the ease of a lumberjack: in auntie mode, she’s sardonic and warm, quick to crack a cutting joke about herself, or slide into a laugh.
For auntie mode, Kamala Harris prefers Converse.
Since well before her Presidential run, Kamala has only worn two types of shoes: the kind of serviceable pointed pumps that every other female politician wears, or Converse sneakers, a shoe that has spent plenty of time inside the White House on First Ladies, but which no other prominent American politician wears on the job. Former Presidents have only occasionally worn running shoes to gawkily do sports in, and current Presidential hopefuls who’ve made their love of business-casual part of their image, like the folksy Beto O Rourke or the tie-less Andrew Yang, have stopped short at suede lace-ups.
PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES.
PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES.
But in the past four months, Kamala has worn Converse to speak at the SF Pride Parade, at an Everytown For Gun Safety Forum in Iowa, and at a Labor Day rally in Los Angeles. She’s worn them for the majority of her bus tour across Iowa to promote her ‘3AM Agenda’ of policies and plans that address the issues that keep families up at night (the official video of the tour could nearly serve as an ad for the sneaker brand). She’s worn cream All Stars with a sequined denim jacket, platform Converse with skinny jeans and a blouse, and scuffed-up white Chucks with a blazer and peg-leg trousers. According to an interview she gave to The Cut in 2018, she has Converse for every occasion: “The kind I wear in hot weather, the kind I wear in cold weather, and the platform kind for when I’m wearing a pantsuit.” Washing Post reporter Erica Warner tweeted that Kamala even tried wearing Converse into the congressional chamber, which has a strict dress code (she was told she had to enter through the cloakroom instead).
Founded in 1908 in Massachusetts, Converse is one of the oldest sneaker brands in the world — and like nearly all sneaker brands, they were invented and popularized in America (the brand was sold to Nike in 2013). Unlike Adidas or Nike, Converse are grounded in a single style that’s not too modern (read: “How do you do, fellow kids?) nor too vintage (read: “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break.”). Unlike Keds, Converse are culturally unisex. They are neither very cool nor very lame, inaccessibly luxurious nor irresponsibly cheap. These are shoes that have been relevant for decades, appreciated for its practicality and universality. They are also uncontroversial. These are not shoes that exclusively belong to a subculture, community, region, or place. Your kid brother, grandma, and Insta-famous ex-roommate might all wear Converse. If the everyperson was a shoe, it’d be a pair of Converse.ADVERTISEMENTIf you believe that clothes say something about its wearer (or at least her ambitions), the fact that Kamala Harris picked Converse is a no-brainer. Harris’ Democratic primary campaign has pushed her practicality and incremental changes over ideological transformations, setting her apart from more progressive candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. As a Black and Indian woman who has made her own identity central to her campaign, Harris also has a reputation as an aggressive District Attorney that sought convictions for low-level crimes like public school truancy and marijuana use that disproportionately affected poor people of color. In an era of progressive politics, Harris’ big challenges have been to gain the trust of those wary of her centrism and prosecutor background. If she wins the primary, she’ll likely experience a different kind of headwind as a woman of color.
PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES.
PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES.Between the mishmash of demographics she needs to win over, and her pragmatist’s approach to policy in a party that’s courting revolution, Harris needs to find a way to be universally winsome.For that role, Converse sneakers have historically worked. Just take a look at how First Ladies have chosen to don that persona in Converse. Michelle Obama was reportedly a fan of limited-edition pairs, including a black snakeskin John Varvatos collaboration she wore during the 2016 Easter Egg roll. After Melania Trump was lambasted for wearing designer stilettos to board a flight to attend a briefing on Hurricane Harvey’s destruction of Houston, she purposefully wore brand-new, pure-white $65 Jack Purcells.Last month at a rally in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Kamala addressed a rapt audience wearing a gray blazer over a white T-shirt and jeans, cream Converse on her feet: “Let’s have a problem-solving President. Let’s deal with the issues that are challenging us. Let’s write the next chapter about the America we believe in.”The words came out straightforward and simply. Her Converse were the final punctuation.
On Tuesday, Senator Kamala Harris was in Nevada for a community roundtable, where she discussed the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on Latino families. While hopping off a plane in the battleground state, a video was captured of her descending the stairs while dressed in a white T-shirt, an army green jacket, jeans, and a pair of Timberland boots. While Harris has been long known for her choice of pragmatic shoewear — namely her go-to Converse sneakers — the boots were quickly applauded on social media.
“THE TIMBS THO,” wrote Meena Harris, the niece of the Democratic vice presidential nominee and the founder of the action campaign Phenomenal Woman, alongside the video. Editor Leah Faye Cooper commented on the post: “I wasn’t ready!” to which Prakash Janakiraman, replied, “Kamala’s kick game is too strong.” A handful of people gave the look a round of applause via emojis. Earlier that day, Harris appeared in the same pair while visiting firefighters in Fresno, California, who are working to control the wildfires that are raging throughout the state.
Not only did Harris don what few other politicians would dare, but she also paired the utilitarian boots with a pearl necklace — another one of her signature fashion items. The latter has, interestingly, become one of 2020’s most talked-about fashion trends. The ultra-feminine jewelry item first saw a rise in popularity when Harry Styles began wearing one during the press tour for his latest album Fine Line. Soon after, designer Marc Jacobs wore one, then Joe Jonas, A$AP Rocky, Shawn Mendes, and Jaden Smith followed. Though the likes of Styles and Smith wore their pearl necklaces on the red carpet with flashy suits and painted nails, not for a day of work travel and definitely not paired with Timberlands. And yet, Harris made the at-first-glance unlikely combo work almost as effortlessly as she bound down those steep airplane steps.Harris is quickly setting a new precedent in the political fashion department — one that is refreshingly full of Chucks and Timbs paired with pearl necklaces.