WASHINGTON — Delegates, candidates and participants at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions aren’t just making political statements — they’re making fashion statements.
D.C.-based fashion blogger Marissa Mitrovich, of Politiquette, has spent the last week and a half studying the crowds in Cleveland and Philadelphia. And while the outfits of celebrity speakers are the ones splashed in the media, Mitrovich says the delegates and passionate participants are the ones making the statements this year.
“That’s where you really get a voice and a story,” Mitrovich said. “Much more important than ‘Who are you wearing?’ is ‘Why are you wearing it?’”
At the RNC, Mitrovich says the Hawaii delegation caught her eye with its members’ matching red “Aloha” clothing.
“For them, they didn’t agree on a candidate, but they felt like their fashion was a unifier,” said Mitrovich, who also has a career in politics and corporate affairs.
Monday night at the DNC, Bernie Sanders supporters sported tape over their mouths. It was hardly haute, but it got the message through.
“That was something they did to say, ‘Look, we’ve been silenced by the DNC.’ And that was their statement,” Mitrovich said.
Others wore bandanas and Robin Hood hats to show their unending support for the former democratic candidate.
“So instead of a unity approach, their fashion really said, ‘Look, we are not with Hillary at this point. She is not our candidate.’”
Mitrovich says it will be interesting to see if these style statements persist throughout the week, even after Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton on Monday night.
The more obvious fashion choices at the political conventions share a common theme: They’ve helped the public relate to the high-profile figures wearing the clothing.
Former fashion model Melania Trump chose an elegant ensemble from Serbian-born designer Roksanda Ilincic. The white dress struck a nerve with some shoppers. Despite its nearly $2,200 price tag, it sold out within hours of her appearance.
Ivanka Trump, daughter of the republican presidential candidate, opted for a more affordable outfit and promoted her own fashion line at the same time with her $136 form-fitting white dress. Similarly, actress and DNC speaker Eva Longoria addressed the crowd at Comcast Spectacor’s Wells Fargo Center in a dress she designed for The Limited.
“It’s relatable for people; it’s something that’s not a heavy policy topic. It’s just something people can identify with, agree with, appreciate,” Mitrovich said.
Just as there are differences on political issues, the Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated differences in fashion. Mitrovich says a lot of that has been driven by the weather.
In Cleveland, Mitrovich saw “so many” cowboy boots.
“There are no cowboy boots here in Philly … people are hot. It is scorching outside and … men are not wearing suits. In fact, I’ve never seen a more casual situation happening by men in this setting,” she said.
A huge rainstorm on Monday night also put a damper on the convention’s style. Due to restrictions on umbrellas at security checkpoints, Mitrovich says DNC attendees were literally wearing plastic bags to the arena.
“So the fashion’s getting off to less of an exciting start in some ways,” she said.
And gone are the days where Republicans are required to wear red and Democrats are assigned to blue.
“Those rules are out the window. Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a speech in a red jacket last night because she likes the color red,” Mitrovich said.