Why Democratic Women Are Wearing White to Tuesday Night’s State of the Union Address

February 6, 2019, 12:19 AM UTC

At the 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday night, expect to see a sea of suffragette white. The House Democratic Women’s Working Group invited women of both political parties to wear white to honor the legacy of women’s suffrage in the United States. With a record number of women serving in Congress, the sartorial choice creates a powerful visual representation of elected women’s leadership.

There’s a fairly lengthy tradition of women in the Democratic Party wearing white to honor the legacy of women’s suffrage. The tradition dates back nearly a century to the women’s suffrage movement in the United States and was chosen for symbolic and aesthetic reasons. White symbolizes purity. It also looks nonthreatening and appealing in photographs (and, as it happens, on television).

The working group’s chair, Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-27), told CNN, “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 rights.”

House Democratic women also held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to reiterate their commitment to affordable childcare, access to healthcare, and the economic security of women and families.

This isn’t the first time Democratic women have signaled their solidarity from the audience of one of President Trump’s speeches. For example, at President Trump’s inauguration, former Secretary of State and 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton wrote a pantsuit and matching coat of the symbolic color, as she did when accepting the Democratic nomination for president.

Numerous lawmakers posted photos Tuesday of the suffragette white jackets and suits that they wore during the day, including to the press conference, and will continue to wear to the Tuesday night 2019 State of the Union address.