When we think about traditional connotations of women wearing white we think bridal gowns and fair maidens in Renaissance oil paintings, but those notions are things of the past.
Women bossing it in white is actually nothing new, in fact white has been a colour associated with female empowerment from as early as 1789 where it was used as a political signifier during the French Revolution. It was later adopted in 1908 by Co-Editor for Votes for Women, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and became intrinsically connected with the women’s suffrage movement in the 20th century.
Flash forward and white is still a colour draped round the shoulders of world leaders and activists alike to illustrate female empowerment and solidarity. Now we think of Hilary Clinton or Beyonce in a crisp cut white pantsuit, but again the political pantsuit isn’t something we can solely credit our contemporary idols with. The political pantsuit dates back to 1874 when at the National Convention of the Dress Reform League a spectator shouted “This reform means trousers. They are freedom to us, and they afford us protection! Trousers are coming”.
Take a look at these 10 moments women have worn white and made a statement:
I. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at her Swearing In Ceremony, 2019
When AOC became the youngest congresswoman of all time at the age of 29, she confirmed her place as someone out to make a difference. Dressed in a white suit with her signature bold red lips and gold hoops, she confirmed the choice of colour was the reference the long history of the women’s suffrage movement.
II. Kamala Harris at her Election Speech, 2020
On a night of many female firsts, when Kamala Harris wore her white pantsuit and pussy bow blouse to celebrate her and Joe Biden’s Democratic win white pantsuit searches spiked at 129% within 24 hours- now that’s making a statement.
The choice of a pussy bow blouse also packed a punch and epitomised the quintessential working woman’s uniform. Made a staple power accessory by the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher.
III. Yulia Tymoshenko meeting Jean-Louis Debre, President of the National Assembly, in Paris
Former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, noted as Ukrainian politics ‘longtime leading lady’ sports a tailored white suit to meet with the National Assembly in Paris. Arriving on the national stage in the 1990s her two decade spanning career has been fraught with prejudice but here she emulates confidence and undeniable power in white.
IV. Amal Alamuddin Clooney in Athens, 2014
Just a normal day at the office Amal Clooney as she rocked up to talks in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Samaras in an effortless white skirt suit. Amal was visiting Greece as part of a team of lawyers advising the government on the return of the Parthenon Marbles, no biggie right?
V. Christine Legarde at Elysee Palace, 2009
President of the European Central Bank, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and also a Minster in various roles of the French Government, Christine Legarde has had every job under the sun. Not only that but she was the first woman to become finance minister of a G8 economy and to head both the ECB and IMF.
In this instance she was acting as Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry and looking stylish as hell when attending a state dinner in Paris. A unique take on the white suit, but we love it all the same.
VI. Princess Diana with Mother Teresa at New York Sisters of Mercy Church, 1997
“She was very concerned for the poor. She was anxious to do something for them, and it was beautiful. That is why she was close to me"
- Mother Teresa, a condolence note on Diana’s death
Two unlikely friends who united in their desire to make the world a better place. Whilst Mother Teresa began her charitable life at the age of 36, Princess Diana lost her life at the same age. Whilst the attention is on the humanitarian causes these women dedicated theirselves too, there is no doubting that Diana did it in style.
VII. Dilma Rousseff accepting the green and yellow mantle of power in Brasilia, 2011
Under that green and yellow sash, Dilma Rousseff owned the stage in a white laced blazer when becoming Brazil’s first female President. Leaders and representatives from over 130 countries attended the historic ceremony where she made a heartfelt speech.
VIII. Nancy Pelosi with George W. Bush, 2006
As President George W. Bush signed the the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorisation and Amendments Act of 2006 into law our favourite lady Nancy Pelosi was there decked in white for the occasion looming over his shoulder.
IX. Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Buckingham Palace, 2012
At the reception for Heads of State attending the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt kept things simple and elegant with a white skirt suit.
The former leader of the Social Democrats and 26th Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt was the first female to hold both positions. Before her tenure at the helm of Danish politics she also served as a member of the European Parliament for Denmark. No big deal!
X. The United States Congresswomen at the State of Union Address, 2019
The pivotal event marked the centenary of the 19th amendment to the constitution, giving women the right to vote. In solidarity, the sea of female congresswomen helmed by AOC and Nancy Pelosi covered the pews with statement white jackets.
Navy Pelosi tweeted that they wore white to support female rights “in spite of a president who doesn’t”.
Ready to add the White Suit to your summer power staples?