Kamala Harris' State Of The Union Ensemble Had Americans Scratching Their Heads

Often, women at the State of the Union address opt to wear something symbolic. In recent years, congresswomen wore white to highlight women's issues in the United States. In 2019, it symbolized the historic number of women who had been elected to the House that fall (via Vox). The following year, it was meant to commemorate 100 years of women's suffrage (via TIME). And this year, members of congress of all genders wore blue and yellow — either as ribbons or as part of their outfit — to show their support for the Ukrainian people after Russia's invasion on February 24.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood out in a royal blue suit with pins of the American and Ukrainian flags as she sat behind President Joe Biden while he addressed the nation. Next to her sat Vice President Kamala Harris, who looked markedly different from the others in the chamber — and Twitter took notice.

Kamala Harris' pantsuit confused Americans

Vice President Kamala Harris looked professional and polished in a brown pantsuit with a brown blouse underneath, but some American viewers didn't quite understand the color choice given that the unspoken fashion theme of the night was Ukrainian flag colors. It also didn't fit with any other themes over the past few years.

"Pelosi is wearing blue for Ukraine and Kamala is wearing brown for...," wrote one Twitter user. Another tweeter thought Harris could have made a better choice for her own reputation, writing, "Kamala missed a great PR moment by not wearing Yellow... whoever put her in brown should be fired." Yet another Twitter user just didn't get it at all, writing, "Kamala wearing that s*** brown outfit is so strange."

However, at least one person thought the choice was perfect, saying, "All I Know Is Kamala Is Wearing TF Out That Brown."

A historic night for women is marred by fashion talk

It was a historic night for Vice President Kamala Harris as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and all American women. For the first time during a State of the Union address, two women were seated behind the president. The image gave us a stark reminder that should anything happen to President Joe Biden, these are the two accomplished people next in line to be president. To some, it shouldn't have mattered what color either woman chose to wear, as nobody had anything to say about the president's choice of suits.

However, the night was marred by the criticism of Harris' pantsuit, something that happens all too much to women in American politics. It's also not the first time the VP has made headlines with her choice of attire. In February 2021, Harris was criticized for wearing Dolce and Gabbana due to the upscale fashion line's advertising, which is perceived by some as offensive with racial undertones, according to The Guardian. There's so much interest in what Harris wears that there's even a website dedicated to her ensembles called Kamala's Closet that lays out the details on clothing she's been seen wearing. From suits to casual wear to accessories and jewelry, it's all there.

Frequent fashion criticism for women in politics

Female politicians are often under a microscope. For example, much was made of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's clothing choices when her husband was running for president in 1992 all the way up until she made her own run for president in 2016.

By the time she got out from her husband's shadow, she was so well known for her pantsuits that it sparked a movement of female supporters donning pantsuits on November 8, 2016, when they headed to the polls to vote for her. However, her suits also garnered so many headlines that The Atlantic published a story at the time called "Why the Pantsuit?" in which writer Megan Garber concludes that a pantsuit is a fashion choice that essentially says, "please stop talking about my clothes."

Unfortunately, even with a pantsuit, people were talking about Clinton's clothing in the same way they criticized Vice President Kamala Harris' clothing nearly six years later. As Bustle pointed out as early as 2015 when Clinton was still just a primary candidate, the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state was constantly criticized for her pantsuits like being "feminine" enough just as Harris' pantsuit was criticized for not being the right color.

Despite being more than just her clothing, Clinton did choose to wear certain colors to symbolize specific moments. Like the women in the House did during State of the Union addresses the last few years, she wore white when she accepted the Democratic nomination. In her book, "What Happened," she wrote that she and former President Bill Clinton wore purple during her 2016 concession speech as "a nod to bipartisanship (blue plus red equals purple)" (via Vogue).