Cruella de Vil, Kid Rock, Dr Zhivago – the internet was ablaze discussing who Marjorie Taylor Greene most looked like in the white knee-length coat and furry collar that she wore to the State of the Union. It turns out the question shouldn’t have been who but what.
Greene apparently wanted to match the Chinese spy balloon that flew over the country last week. So she picked a white coat because, I guess, the balloon was also white.
Nick Dyer, the congresswoman’s communications director, told the Guardian in an email that the $495 Overland coat – made with alpaca wool and fur trim – was meant to “highlight” the president’s lack of comment on the balloon during his State of the Union speech. “Biden refused to mention it, just like he refused to stop the intelligence-gathering operation that traversed the United States and surveilled some of our most important military facilities in the country,” Dyer said.
Greene purchased the piece in Wyoming, Dyer said, while campaigning against Liz Cheney and fundraising for Harriet Hageman, who is now a US representative for the state.
Political Twitter had its own feelings about what the coat represented. “I dunno why but Marjorie Taylor Greene in that white coat screaming at Biden gave me a powerful ‘Russian Karen vibe’,” tweeted Politico Europe journalist Nika Melkozerova.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene’s coat is made from the dogs George Santos said he was rescuing,” joked the former department of defense aide Adam Blickstein.
Greene wasn’t the only divisive figure to make some choices when it came to styling. The Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema, known for her striking dress sense, wore a canary-yellow dress with voluminous sleeves that drew comparisons to Big Bird and out-there red carpet outfits.
Not long ago, if anyone was going to communicate a political message through their clothing at nights like these, it would be the first lady. In simpler times, these outfits were meant to symbolize unity, strength, or a vague sense of patriotism. There are staff who spend weeks wrangling outfits from designers. But – quick – do you remember what Jill Biden wore last night?
I needed Google to remind me: a magenta dress. Purple, as color theory tells us, is a mix of the colors red and blue, and it has become something of a shorthand for outfits that encourage bipartisanship. That’s why so many people, from Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama to Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton, wore it to Biden’s 2021 inauguration.
But no one’s tweeting about Jill Biden’s dress today. (Her on-the-lips kiss with second gentleman Doug Emhoff? That’s another matter and why #Swingers trended on the app this morning.) But Greene’s night-stealing outfit succeeded as a yet another ploy for attention, not unlike the white balloon she carried around Capitol Hill before the speech began.
By the next morning, Greene’s outfit was being dissected on The View, with the co-host Farah Green pulling up a photo of Greene next to one of her puppy. If reports are true that the congresswoman is vying for a spot as Trump’s 2024 running mate, she’s certainly leaning into his playbook – get on television by any means possible, even if it means dressing up as a balloon.
• This article was amended on 9 February 2023. The headline of an earlier version misspelled Marjorie.