Not Blue Or Purple: The Significance Of Wearing White At The DNC

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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives on stage during the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Thursday. (AFP / Getty Images)

If you were glued to your TV last week watching the Democratic National Convention like I was, you may have noticed a trend in the outfit color choices of some of the female speakers: white. That might seem odd considering the color of the Democratic Party is blue and the color of the independent party is purple. But Rep. Joyce Beatty, Lena Dunham and Elizabeth Banks, among others, all wore white. Most poignantly, Hillary Clinton wore an all-white pant suit during her acceptance speech of the Democratic party presidential nomination.

Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is not shy in her color choices when it comes to the rainbow of pantsuits she has worn over the decades so is it surprising she chose to wear white during this monumental, historic moment?

Not at all.

Choosing to wear white was a silent, yet powerful statement about feminism. This coming August, on *Women’s Equality Day we will be celebrating the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. The fight for the right to vote in the United States was led by the Suffragette movement whose first convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Suffragettes wore white.

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A Suffragette parade in 1914 with the movement’s distinctive green, white and purple flag. | Photo credit: Hulton Archive

Fashion was a powerful tool in the Suffragette Movement and the choice of feminine dress was no accident. Fancy hats, flowing dresses and tailored topcoats signified refinement. They accepted femininity as a tool to appeal to the upper-classes and to fight against claims that they were “unladylike”. The Suffragette Movement united under the colors purple for loyalty, white for purity and green for honesty. Associating a color with the cause gave members a way to silently protest in public, increased visibility for the movement and allowed the involvement of passive supporters. Brilliant.

Fast forward to July 28th 2016, where Hillary Clinton made herstory. She is the first woman ever to accept the Presidential nomination of a major political party in the United States. And she did it while wearing white.

*I will be discussing Women’s Equality Day more in-depth in the next issue of The Monthly going out on August 2nd. If you are not yet a member you can subscribe here for free.

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