A Fresh Start For 2021

Vice President-Elect wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover
Photo: Tyler Mitchell

I can’t count the number of times I’ve reflected on how hard it is – if not impossible – to write about something seemingly inconsequential as fashion, with all that is going on. But in reality, fashion is more than a trivial pursuit. It is fundamental to how we present ourselves to the world, and it takes on even more significance for those high profile individuals in the political arena.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris appears on the cover of February
Vogue Photo: Tyler Mitchell

Kamala Harris is Vogue’s February 2021 cover girl. The Vice President-Elect is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. The visage is the complete antithesis of Melania Trump, who was snubbed by Vogue in these past four years. FYI, when you go to the Donald Deal website, donalddeal.com, all you see are evening gowns?

There is a second “Madam Vice President” digital cover featuring a closer-cropped image of her wearing a pale blue suit by Michael Kors. It is more formal but still “meh” in my opinion. Neither one captured the sanctity of the moment. It didn’t take long for the reactions and criticisms to start pouring in. Many argued that Kamala should look more “Vice-Presidential” and less familiar and informal.

Kamala Harris Elle Magazine November 2020 Cover
Photo: Inez & Vinoodh

For the record, I think the Vice President-Elect’s face and hair look beautiful (she is a good looking woman, after all). But I would have preferred to see her wearing something more inspirational and less “girl next door.” When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential.

If Kamala was going to be dressed informally in her sneakers, it would have helped if she was wearing a beautifully fitting, well-tailored jacket. There are certainly many to chose from. It is Vogue Magazine, after all, and this is a monumental accomplishment. I understand the symbolism of the pink satin curtain in the back (it is emblematic of Kamala’s Howard University sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha). Still, it looks like a cutesy, amateurish afterthought.

According to a Vogue Magazine spokesperson, Harris dressed and styled herself for the Tyler Mitchell-lensed shoot. The images are meaning to convey “her authentic/approachable nature — which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration.”

Altuzarra Resort 2021
Photo: vogue.com

There are now blogs and websites devoted to Kamala’s fashion choices. One site of note is “Kamala’s Closet,” launched this August by Vittoria Vignone, a New York City-based museum associate. She turned her Instagram account into a website, with links to shop Harris’ wardrobe items. You can bet armies of women who usually shy away from tailored pantsuits, pearl necklaces, and humble converse sneakers will want to emulate. They already have.

Chuck Taylor Star Lugged Winter Gore-Tex High Tops
Photo: converse.com

Meanwhile, the classic Converse low and high top sneakers Kamala favors are iconic but don’t offer any insulation or protection against the elements. I recently found a version that does: The Chuck Taylor All Star Lugged Winter High Tops sneakers built to take on the elements from the inside out. The Sherpa-lined GORE-TEX bootie features a leather upper, traction platform sole, and reflective two-tone laces. They are currently on sale from $110-$71. 97 and available at converse.com.

Proenza Schouler Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Speaking of sneakers, the consensus is that we will want to get dressed “to the nines” when the pandemic is finally under control. According to Dr. Fauci, that most likely won’t happen until the beginning of fall 2021. For now, there are no live events to attend, and we still have winter to contend with.

Saint Laurent Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

You don’t need a special occasion to wear a well-cut dress, a statement coat, a cozy puffer, an impeccably tailored jacket, perfectly cut white trousers or a marvelous sweater. Adding a fanciful touch, especially in the form of gold hardware, is always a good idea.

Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2021
Photo: vogue.com

With all the chaos surrounding us, clean-lined minimalism (whether played out in stark black and white, pale neutrals, or living color) looks better than ever. See collections by Jil Sander, Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, Peter Do, and Saint Laurent.

Bottega Veneta Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

All of them showed their spring, fall, or pre-fall 2021 collections throughout the past few months. Their designs are consumer-focused and relevant for the real world but remain joyful and celebratory owing to the well thought out design, innovative fabrication, and distinctive or artisanal touches.

Actually, some of the best things I’ve seen are on The Frankie Shop website. I am continually impressed with Gaelle Drevet’s cool, on-point selection, and reasonable prices, not minor issues. I was so taken, I wrote an article about her company back in May.

Side Split Double Breasted Wool Felt Coat in Ivory
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

The Frankie Shop’s practical, versatile, well-made distinctive wardrobe basics provide a perfect blank slate and allow for personalization and individuality. The coats are outstanding. The Side Split Double Breasted Wool Felt Coat in Ivory with notch lapels side split pockets and hem. It sells for $499 and is available at thefrankieshop.com

The Quilted Anorak Cape Coat in Black
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

The oversized quilted down-filled quilted Anorak Cape offered in black and khaki is lined with goose down and feathers features front pouch pockets and a partial snap front placket. It sells for $455 and is available at thefrankieshop.com.

Hooded Wool Cape In Macaroon
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

The Hooded Wool Cape in Macaroon features a fixed hood, open sides with snap fastening, and flap front pockets. It looks great with leggings and flat loafers. The cape is $455 and available at thefrankieshop.com.

Single-Breasted Hourglass Blazer in Camel
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

I love the structured shape of this Single-breasted Hourglass Blazer. It reminds me of a chic riding jacket. Made of Mid-weight suiting fabric with peaked lapels, padded shoulders, back vent hem, and welt pockets at the chest. Available in camel and black, it looks far more pricey than $289 and is for sale at thefrankieshop.com.

Split Cape Sleeve Turtleneck Pullover in Asphalt
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

Knitwear is another Frankie Shop specialty. The Split Cape Sleeve Turtleneck Pullover in Asphalt is made of a midweight woolen ribbed knit. It has a cropped silhouette and open split cape sleeves. It is highly versatile and can be worn, and draped, in many ways. It’s a lot of style for $128 and available at thefrankieshop.com.

Marilyn Kirschner
Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

  1. Marilyn,
    Hi darling. While I think you’re showing some looks that are chic and smart, they’re way too trendy and fashion forward for the vast majority of Americans. The fly over states and others most likely have never seen anything like them, let alone have a retailer in their areas stocking clothing like this…it’s not so much dumb it down but be more conservative and realistic when it comes to dressing elected officials. The green Bottega would cause an uproar.

  2. thank you for your comment .perhaps the article was a bit confusing.. It was really in two parts
    after speaking about Kamala Harris, I talked about going forward and dressing now
    many say we will want to get dressed to the nines when the pandemic is under control
    my comment is that we won’t be going to normal for months
    I was showing examples of clothes from designers I admire that are interesting but yet still minimal and not dressed up
    I was hardly showing those as suggestions for Kamala Harris.
    I already wrote several articles on what she might wear, or should wear…I never would have suggested the green Bottega…it was just an example of fresh new spring clothes

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