Politics meets fashion at State of the Union: Ukraine colors, white suits

By Thomson Reuters Mar 7, 2024 | 8:26 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some are clad in white for reproductive rights. One donned red to represent Washington’s desire to be a state. And former Representative George Santos is in a bedazzled collar.

Lawmakers and their guests used fashion to make a statement on Tuesday as Joe Biden’s State of the Union address gives not just the president, but also his audience, their biggest platform of the year.

Yellow and blue was the choice for some lawmakers, the bicolor of Ukraine. Legislation that includes $60 billion in aid for Ukraine has been held up by House Republicans for months, a delay that has contributed to some setbacks for Kyiv on the battlefield.

Santos, who was expelled from Congress after a dizzying array of lies about his biography led to his indictment on fraud charges, nonetheless appeared at the speech in a rhinestone-studded collar, a black blazer and white trousers.

He also chose a more subtle touch favored by several lawmakers: a pin.

His and that worn by other Republican lawmakers was red and in tribute of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student from Georgia, who was allegedly murdered last month by an undocumented immigrant who had been released on parole.

Republicans, who blame Biden and his administration’s border policies for the deaths of Americans killed by illegal migrants, have seized on the case. Firebrand U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene wore a “Say Her Name” t-shirt, another reference to Riley.

On the other side of the aisle, a handful of Democratic U.S. lawmakers showed their support for a break in the war in Gaza on Thursday night by wearing red-and-white lapel pins reading “CEASEFIRE.”

“Win Without War,” a network of activists and organizations that advocates for a more peaceful U.S. foreign policy, said before the speech that about 15 offices had requested the pins but it did not know how many members of Congress would wear them to the speech.

Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib also wore Palestinian keffiyeh scarves.

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was gravely wounded in a 2011 shooting rampage, wore orange to symbolize ending gun violence.

Members of the Democratic Women’s caucus are wearing white outfits with pins reading “Fighting for Reproductive Freedom” to emphasize their support for reproductive rights.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Patricia Zengerle, Gabriella Borter; Editing by Heather Timmons and Stephen Coates)