There's a hidden reason why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white jumpsuit to her congressional swearing-in ceremony

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white jumpsuit while being sworn in on Thursday.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez donned a white jumpsuit on Thursday to be sworn in as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
  • The colour white has been tied to women’s political empowerment since the suffrage movement.
  • Female politicians Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, and Hillary Clinton have all notably worn white during key political events.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to wear a white jumpsuit to the opening session of the 116th Congress may have a hidden meaning.

On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez donned a white jumpsuit to be sworn in as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

The connection between the colour white and women’s political empowerment has its roots in the suffrage movement.

In 1908, according to, the Women’s Social and Political Union picked three colours to represent the movement for women’s suffrage: white for purity, purple for dignity, and green for hope. Women dressed in white became a symbol for the suffrage movement as they rallied and protested for the right to vote.

Hillary clinton debateDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesHillary Clinton donned a white pantsuit for the third 2016 presidential debate.

Since then, white clothing has reemerged as a symbol again and again as women have broken through the glass ceiling on many fronts in politics.

Shirley Chisholm wore white when she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, as well as during her 1972 presidential campaign. When Geraldine Ferraro delivered her acceptance speech as the first female vice-presidential candidate for a major ticket in 1984, she also wore white.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton donned a white pantsuit (a sartorial choice highly associated with the candidate) for the third presidential debate. Many Clinton supporters encouraged voters to wear white to vote leading up to the 2016 presidential election. And, first lady Melania Trump wore an all-white pantsuit to the State of the Union address, which observers connected both to the suffragettes and to Clinton.

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