Is Kamala Harris’s Fashion Her Secret Weapon?


Professor Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute, comments on Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ style on the campaign trail.

Sen. Harris has consistently used the sober codes of attorney style during her political career (with some notable, strategic exceptions—a sequined jacket, her Converse low-tops). Recent weeks underline her plan: In Georgia on October 23 she wore a black suit, black pearls, black mask; in North Carolina on October 21, a dark blazer and pearls; at a Florida appearance on October 19, a dark suit and white pearls. On the current cover of “Elle” magazine—for which she selected her own clothing, as always—she opted for a charcoal suit and pumps. Prof. Scafidi, who studies the intersection of fashion and law, observed, “I think she’s got it down to a shorthand, it’s PPP with PPE, that is to say, pearls, pumps and a pantsuit with a mask, so very 2020.”

Her conservative, subdued uniform is an effort to keep the focus on the message, not the messenger. (A representative from the Harris team declined to discuss the topic.) That low-profile image means that we haven’t been bombarded with reports of expensive primping, a la Emmanuel Macron’s makeup and John Edwards’s expensive floppy coif, or pricey clothing budgets, such as the $150,0000-plus spent by the Republican National Committee to outfit Sarah Palin for her vice-presidential run in 2008.

In a sense, Senator Harris, like many attorneys, was groomed for discretion. Many lawyers describe a strict dress code into which they are indoctrinated as early as law school to help them blend in. Professor Scafidi tells students prepping for their first court experience that they only need one outfit: a dark suit and a pair of pearl stud earrings. Sound familiar?

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