Seeing white? Us, too. A lot of it.
The newsrooms and election headquarters were whitewashed last night, thanks to something that was more that just a wardrobe choice.
What you may think began as a social media movement is much deeper than that. The #WearWhiteToVote campaign that went viral online in support of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton honors the spirit of the suffragists who wore white as they fought for women’s right to vote. Clinton started the trend of honoring them when she wore an ivory Ralph Lauren pantsuit to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Why white? The color white has “associations with purity and starting afresh that was sort of the appeal for the suffragists,” Hazel Clark, professor of design studies and fashion studies at the New School in New York, told the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s a kind of blank slate in a way.” According to the New York Times, white was one of the main colors of the women’s movement: “White, along with purple and gold, were the official colors of the National Woman’s Party and the suffragist movement.”
The Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage’s mission statement explains further. Published in December 1913, it reads: “White, the emblem of purity, symbolizes the quality of our purpose.”
The tradition held strong over the years. Geraldine Ferraro dressed in white when she became the first woman on a major party’s ticket, accepting the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1984. Shirley Chisholm wore white on the day she became the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress in 1968, and three years later while campaigning to be the first woman presidential candidate on a major party’s ticket.
But the movement seems to resonating with Republicans as well, which could explain why future first lady Melania Trump wore a white one-shoulder jumpsuit also by Ralph Lauren Tuesday night. Maybe she’s celebrating women’s right to vote, but since she wasn’t voting for the first female president (unless she did; that would be awesome), it was probably just because she liked the color. Ivanka Trump also wore white to vote, opting for a beautiful cream pea coat.
News anchors wore white on election night as well, including NBC’s Savannah Guthrie who donned a white dress and matching blazer, and CNN’s Dana Bash who wore a white long-sleeved outfit.
Clinton supporters all over the country came out in white this past week to support her, honor suffragists and show that it is important for America to have its first female president.
— Lauren Koontz (@lauren_koontz) November 8, 2016
— Baratunde (@baratunde) November 8, 2016
— Ms. Magazine (@MsMagazine) November 7, 2016
In honor of the women who helped me secure my right to vote, I will wear white! #WearWhiteToVote
— kathleen port (@KathleenPort) November 6, 2016
Along with wearing white, these celebrities and many others also showed off their “I Voted” stickers on social media — the real accessory du jour of this election cycle.