Many people let out a hesitant sigh of relief today with the swearing in of America’s 46th President, Joe Biden.
Before we jump in, I want to clearly state my intentions with Can’t Hardly Dress (CHD) in 2021. From the inception of CHD, I struggled with how to talk about social justice topics so I mostly avoided them. After contemplation, I will be posting more in-depth and honest thoughts on topics like anti-racism, womanism, and feminism. If these topics bother you, this may not be the place for you.
I’ve been noticeably absent, but with good cause! First, how can you create 90s content in the middle of an attempted fascist insurrection? Second, I am applying to graduate school and these deadlines had me tied up. Luckily I’m almost done, so I now have free time to return to 90s nostalgia!
You’ll rarely catch me praising Presidents these days, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about inauguration fashion. Bill Clinton was the only American President to have the full inauguration ceremony in the 90s. In looking back at the photos from his inauguration in 1993, I found most of the politicians’ style to be, well, stuffy. With that in mind, I turned to the musicians who performed at the ceremony for a little fashion inspiration.
I was not disappointed.
Diana Ross sang “God Bless America” in a stunning blue ball gown covered by what looked like a 90s iconic red puffer jacket. This married what was remaining of 1980s style in the ballgown formality with a 90s street style look with the jacket. In a similar theme to Biden’s inaugurations, Clinton’s ceremony kicked off with a “Call for Reunion,” a concert kicked off by Ross at the Lincoln Memorial. Performers included Aretha Franklin, Michael Bolton, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, and L-L Cool J.
Aretha Franklin was a formidable presence throughout the decades at Presidential inaugurations. In 1993, she performed “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis the night before Bill Clinton’s inaugration. She also performed at the Call for Reunion pre-inaugral concert the next day, January 20, 1993.
What stood out to me about her outfit was obviously knee-length fur coat, which she wore much to the ire of animal rights activists. More than that, I loved the sheer black tights that were a common sight in the 90s. The outfit itself harkened back to her younger days in the ‘60s and ‘70s. While I personally don’t love the fur, I have to admit that the jacket she wore was stunning.
The last performance of note I want to touch on was Fleetwood Mac. Their song, Don’t Stop, was the official song of the Clinton campaign. It also touched on themes covered by Biden’s address today. Yesterday’s gone and all we have is tomorrow. Fleetwood Mac reunited for their performance at the Inaugural Ball, bringing the band back together for the first time since 1982. Stevie Nicks was notably witchy, in all black with sequins, a top hat and gigantic cross to mark the occasion.
I was happy to bring you some music and fashion history on this historic day! I hope you stop back for more on Can’t Hardly Dress.