Kamala Harris's iconic style inspires women to wear Converse and pearls on Inauguration Day

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SIOUX CITY, IOWA - AUGUST 09: Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) talks on the phone as she rides on her campaign bus to a campaign event in Storm Lake on August 09, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. Kamala Harris is on a five day river-to-river bus tour across Iowa promoting her "3AM Agenda" to Iowans. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Vice president-elect Kamala Harris has a signature style. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Election Day in 2016, women across the United States wore white to the polls as a tribute to the suffragettes and their fight for equality. Born through a hashtag, #WearWhiteToVote went viral, with people using fashion to honor the first woman to represent a major party in a United States presidential election.

Four years after Hillary Clinton’s loss, women are using clothing again thanks to a social media call to action, this time to commemorate Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day by mimicking her iconic style: Converse sneakers and pearls.

Dozens of Facebook pages have popped up dedicated to celebrating Harris, who is the first woman vice president-elect as well as the first Black woman and the first South Asian woman vice president-elect. One such group, Chucks and Pearls Day, January 20, 2021 was founded by Texans Jeanette DeVaughn along with Marilyn Toliver and Sharon Whetstone in December and now has more than 70,000 members.

“Women have a voice and we embrace the opportunity to work together for progress,” Toliver tells Yahoo Life on the trio’s inspiration for creating the community. “Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents an amazing step in American history and diversity and inclusion. She's the first woman to be elected as Vice President. And she's the first woman of color in this vital role. And her signature campaign style was a suit accessorized with a string of pearls and her cool Converse All-Stars aka ‘Chucks.’ When she'd get off of the plane in that look, you could see that she was down to earth, comfortable in her style and confident in her brilliance.”

Harris has been a fan of Converse for years, even wearing them on the cover of Vogue magazine. As she told The Cut in 2018, "I have a whole collection of Chuck Taylors: a black leather pair, a white pair, I have the kind that don’t lace, the kind that do lace, the kind I wear in the hot weather, the kind I wear in the cold weather, and the platform kind for when I’m wearing a pantsuit."

And while the shoe preference is more a comfort choice, pearls have a deeper meaning, seemingly worn as an homage to sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, one of the nation's oldest Black sororities. Founded in 1908 at Howard University, Harris’s alma mater, AKA calls its founders and incorporators the “twenty pearls,” with the object today representing sisterhood to its members.

In addition to paying homage to Harris’ style, the group has encouraged its members to use their creativity by decorating a pair of Chucks and sharing pictures of their designs. Countless women have posted photos of their shoes, which they accessorized with a string of pearls, including Sharael Miller of Georgia. Miller tells Yahoo Life that it was not easy to come up with her embellished look, which she decked out in white pearls that she says represent “hard work and accomplishments recognized.”

Sharael Miller shared a photo of the Chucks she customized to celebrate the inauguration of Kamala Harris. (Photo: Sharael Miller)
Sharael Miller shared a photo of the Chucks she customized to celebrate the inauguration of Kamala Harris. (Photo: Sharael Miller)

“It took me a couple of days to figure out what I wanted. I designed my Chucks according to my own style. Classic and stylish. Wearing Pearls and kicking doors down. Ready for the journey!” she explains.

Other examples feature empowering quotes, ribbon laces, encrusted diamonds and more flair and flash.

This member shared a photo of her custom Chucks, which read "nevertheless she persisted" on the tongue. (Photo: Marcy Byrd)
This member shared a photo of her custom Chucks, which read "nevertheless she persisted" on the tongue. (Photo: Marcy Byrd)
One member shared her Chucks with women in the group. (Photo: Traci Woolfork)
One member shared her Chucks with women in the group. (Photo: Traci Woolfork)
This member used pearls to spell out Harris' name on her red chucks. (Photo: Cri Jackson)
This member used pearls to spell out Harris' name on her red chucks. (Photo: Cri Jackson)

Toliver admits that she and the group’s other co-founders are in awe of the response the group has gotten.

“To think that we formed this community almost a month ago and we are now 71,000 strong? Amazing. We also love the sense of community and bonding that is organically emerging. We're culturally diverse and we have moms who are posting pics of their kiddos wearing Chucks. So we're seeing our movement reach multicultural and multi-generational audiences,” she adds.

Beyond Wednesday’s inauguration, Toliver hopes to cultivate the community for good, continue to promote creativity and inspire women to go after their dreams.

“We want to be a fun place to fellowship,” she explains. “During this pandemic, the ability to socialize and connect is really more difficult. We want to be a safe place to hang with new friends, creating a sisterhood with purpose [and] a place that's friendly and respectful.”

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