The Hidden Message Behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's White Ensemble On Her Vanity Fair Cover

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez graced the cover of Vanity Fair last November, shortly before the infamous 2020 presidential election. At the time, the cover caused somewhat of an uproar based on her attire — but of course, controversy often follows Ocasio-Cortez when it comes to fashion. In fact, you probably remember a similar backlash when she attended the Met Gala this fall in a white gown that read "Tax the Rich."

The off-the-shoulder white dress from Brooklyn-based designer brand Brother Vellies — which had "Tax the Rich" written in brilliant red on the backside — became the talk of the evening, per CNN, noting that the message drew ire from some conservative politicians and pundits. Many claimed that she sent a hypocritical message considering the $35,000 ticket to the gala, filled with "the rich." However, AOC herself said she didn't pay for her ticket and borrowed the gown.

The congresswoman also wore white for her Vanity Fair cover, but you might not realize the hidden message she sent to readers with the ensemble. What did her careful clothing choice mean?

The real reason AOC chose white for the cover photo

According to Refinery29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's double-breasted, ivory, wool, silk suit — from New York-based label Aliétteon — on the cover of Vanity Fair in November 2020 "represented hope." Starting with the women's suffrage movement, women wore white to show their resistance satirically. Others, like Hillary Clinton, famously chose to wear white many times throughout their political careers. The cover outfit the congresswoman wore honored not only the past but also symbolized her commitment to fighting for women's rights moving forward, giving hope for the future.

Despite its hidden message and hopeful meaning, Ocasio-Cortez's fashionable look for the magazine cover — shot by photographer Tyler Mitchell — also drew a few negative comments, with some pundits criticizing her designer clothing and its cost. However, the congresswoman hit back, noting that the ensemble was borrowed. After Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized her in a tweet, the congresswoman replied that the shoot was "100% worth it, would do again." AOC added, "I don't know if you've been in a photoshoot, Laura, but you don't keep the clothes."

It's not the first time she wore what is sometimes known as "suffragette white." Read on to learn the other prominent times Ocasio-Cortez donned a meaningful outfit. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's history of wearing white

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore white other times during her political career. In addition to her Met Gala gown and the Vanity Fair cover, she began her whole career on Capitol Hill by wearing white to her swearing-in ceremony in 2019. Later, the new congresswoman tweeted, "I wore all-white today to honor the women who paved the path before me, and for all the women yet to come. From suffragettes to Shirley Chisholm, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the mothers of the movement."

She also joined with several other Democrat women in Congress in wearing white to the 2020 State of the Union address. According to Time, the Democratic Women's Caucus wore white to symbolize their dedication to defending women's rights and rights of all oppressed people. Like her other ensembles, AOC chose to wear the snow-colored outfit as an homage to all of the suffragists who came before her.