Bernie Sanders on the phone at the inauguration. by the Forward

Bernie Sanders in his mittens is all of us

Courtesy of Getty Images

While many on Twitter obsessed over important inauguration fashion moments such as how great Michelle Obama looked, Gaga’s brooch and, of course, Ella Emhoff’s sparkly-shouldered coat, most of the internet’s attention was focused on a picture of Bernie Sanders, hunkered down in a folding chair and bundled up in a puffy coat and enormous mittens. It has already become a meme, one which I fully expect to have great staying power. It’s an instant classic.

But Bernie’s sartorial choices are more than cute outerwear. At an event all about seeing and being seen, Bernie did what he has always done — refuse to perform, and remain stubbornly himself. His mittens — made by a constituent — are a reiteration of his politics, a reminder of his suspicion of big money and showy displays dominating politics. He is there to focus on the important thing, the actual work of governing, and he sees no reason not to remain comfortable while he’s doing it.

“In Vermont,” he told reporters after the inauguration, “we’re not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm.”

At this point, we all know who Bernie is and what he stands for. And he made it clear through his jacket, his expression, and his harried attitude while pushing through a mingling crowd of politicians, that he hasn’t changed. He will show up, and he will make nice when he must, but only exactly as much as he needs to.

He’s the uncle who showed up to the Bat Mitzvah because it’s family, but thinks all the fuss is a bit much.

Or, possibly, he’s your dad, waiting for you to pick out a dress for said Bat Mitzvah. He doesn’t care which one, provided it’s not too expensive.

Of course, he would have also had to go to Zabar’s to pick up brunch supplies for the reception after the Bat Mitzvah.

Or, perhaps it wasn’t a Bat Mitzvah. It may have been a shiva. Either way, far too much talking.

Really, Bernie just wants you to get to the point, regardless of the ceremony.

It’s possible he’s also a soccer mom. You’ve got to dress right to survive your kid’s games if you live in Vermont.

Whatever it was, all the fuss certainly seems unnecessary.

And you know that’s the only coat he owns — it’s starred in other memes. Why would you need two? This one is warm. Gets the job done.

Since it’s his only coat, he definitely didn’t have time to clean it out. Anyway, your nose does tend to run when it’s cold out. Best to be prepared.

He’s a busy man. He was in a rush.

In a day that stands on ceremony, one which was full of designer coats and belts out of reach of the average American they work for, Bernie is there, as always, to stand for the Everyman.

And, honestly, even if Bernie had been the president-elect, things might not have looked too different.

Mira Fox is a fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at or find or on Twitter @miraefox.


Mira Fox

Mira Fox

Mira Fox is a reporter at the Forward. Get in touch at or on Twitter @miraefox .

Bernie Sanders in his inauguration mittens is all of us

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