Here's Why the Women of Congress Wore White for the 2019 State of the Union Address

Democratic women again used white clothing to make a coordinated fashion statement at the 2019 State of the Union address.

Borrowing from the color used by the early 20th century movement to recognize women’s right to vote, the House Democratic Women’s Working Group invited lawmakers to wear white as a sign of solidarity once more.

“Wearing suffragette white is a respectful message of solidarity with women across the country, and a declaration that we will not go back on our hard-earned right,” Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel said in a statement to CNN.

A sweeping view shows dozens of Democratic congresswomen wearing white during President Trump's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, 2019.
A sweeping view shows dozens of Democratic congresswomen wearing white during President Trump's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, 2019.

It’s not the first time the group has done this. In 2017, the House Democratic Women’s Working Group asked women members to wear white to a presidential address to Congress, as a way to show support for women’s issues. In 2018, the group asked both men and women members of Congress to wear black to the State of the Union address to show solidarity with the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other female lawmakers cheer during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. A group of female Democratic lawmakers chose to wear white to the speech in solidarity with women and a nod to the suffragette movement. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other female lawmakers cheer during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. A group of female Democratic lawmakers chose to wear white to the speech in solidarity with women and a nod to the suffragette movement. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
New York Representative (D) Alexandria Octavio-Cortez (C) poses for a picture with other women ahead of US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. - Women from both political parties wore white outfits tonight at the behest of the Democratic Womens Working Group to honor the legacy of women's suffrage in the United States. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
New York Representative (D) Alexandria Octavio-Cortez (C) poses for a picture with other women ahead of US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. - Women from both political parties wore white outfits tonight at the behest of the Democratic Womens Working Group to honor the legacy of women's suffrage in the United States. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The women of the #116th were asked to wear white tonight in tribute to the #suffragetes Tonight, I honor women like #AlicePaul who led the movement & women like #IdaB who were excluded from it. Kente cloth & the color white. Holding space for both #womanists & #feminists, always,” Ayanna Pressley wrote before the 2019 State of the Union.

Other prominent women have worn the symbolic color in recent years, including Hillary Clinton, who wore a white pantsuit to the 2016 Democratic national convention where she became the first major party female nominee for president. More recently, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore white when she was sworn into Congress last month, noting on Twitter that she “wore all-white today to honor the women who paved the path before me, and for all the women yet to come.”

People were quick to notice that Trump’s daughter Tiffany Trump wore white as well, as Melania Trump had done before her. While it’s hard to say what her motivations might have been, the coincidence was not lost on the internet.

To join in the display of support, a number of congressmen also wore white ribbons on their lapels.

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