Fashion, though not always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of politics, has played a strong role in defining the mental images we have for our two presidential candidates. Think of Donald Trump’s boxy suits, always casting the air of a kid wearing Dad's oversized hand-me-down, trucker hat askew. And anyone who's paid an ounce of attention knows Hillary Clinton’s preference for minimalist pantsuits.
Local personal stylist Scarlet Chamberlin wanted to show Clinton some love using the language she knows best: outfits. “I felt very compelled to do something the morning after the first debate," says Chamberlin, who's dressed celebs like Cheryl Strayed and Sheila Hamilton in addition to hundreds of day-to-day clients. "The first thing I could think of was to wear my red suit by Adam Arnold because Hillary wore a red suit that night.”
As Chamberlin went through her Tuesday morning pulling clothing from local boutiques for clients, it turned out that a perfectly tailored, bold red pantsuit in our casual city prompted a barrage of questions. She kept telling people it was her pantsuit for Hillary, and decided to document it with the hashtag #pantsuits4hillary—sparking social media enthusiasm from other local designers like Elizabeth Dye. Boutiques offered to donate items for her cause.
The tiny idea caught fire and Chamberlin vowed to wear a pantsuit for all 43 days leading up to the election, posting daily shots of herself. In the shots, she styles separates—primarily from local boutiques—into looks that would make HRC proud. Chamberlin also joined forces with brand strategist Kate Sokoloff, historian Juliette Levy, and marketing director Susan Towers to host a pantsuit party in her Old Town studio, where pantsuit-clad guests had photos taken with a life-size Clinton cutout. The crew also started a website, pantsuits4hillary.com, with instructions on how to hold your own pantsuit party and photos of all the women hopping on the trouser train.
“Suit up, because we all need to show our support," Chamberlin says. "It feels good to be participating in this movement and showing our support to Hillary. I feel like no matter how strong, talented, skilled, experienced, and awesome we are, it doesn’t hurt to have a show of a support. We believe it’s not just a pantsuit, it’s a state of mind."
Need more pantsuit power? Check out this New York City flash mob dancing an ode to Hillary, with Portland label Wildfang’s signature “Wild Feminist” tee showing up throughout.