I know, I know. I'm talking about the edgy black outfit that Hillary Clinton wore to the Professional Business Women of California Conference in San Francisco, which means that I'm feeding into the double standard. But you know what? Hillary Clinton's black outfit is proof of exactly how she uses that double standard — and she's been doing it for years.
The double standard, of course, is how people talk about female politicians' appearance while totally ignoring how male politicians look. Take the Daily Mail's now infamous "Legs-it" front page, which blatantly objectified two of the U.K.'s highest ranking government officials, who also happen to be women. That happened on Tuesday, and Clinton gave her speech on Tuesday as well. Clearly, the double standard is still alive and well.
Clinton, at this point no stranger to the world of politics, knows exactly how each of her outfits gets broken down by observers near and far. Search "Hillary Clinton outfit" and you'll get millions of results. Just in the top ten you have one piece calling her fashionable, another one saying she once dressed like Tupac, and another one insulting one of her choices. More importantly, though, there are also a number of other pieces discussing the symbolism of Hillary Clinton's outfits. She knows that people are going to notice — so she uses her outfits as another extension of her voice.
Take the purple that she wore at her concession speech, which was a deeply symbolic choice — either as a symbol of unity in a nation divided by red and blue, or as a shoutout to the suffragettes, who chose purple as one of their colors a century ago in their fight for women's rights. She's brought out the white pantsuit several times at important moments, also in honor of the suffragettes' struggle. Those moments include when she accepted the Democratic nomination, and when she came to watch her former opponent at his inauguration. For moments like that, you know that she didn't just walk out wearing the first thing she saw in her closet.
Now, she's brought out a black outfit. Black is also a hugely symbolic color, and a lot of that symbolism applies in this case. It's the color of mourning, which speaks to all those who still keenly feel the sting of defeat. But perhaps more importantly, it's also the color of resistance — and a color of strength. Clinton is back in the public eye, and she's standing alongside those who feel that the Trump administration is taking something away from them. In a perfect world, no one would notice what she was wearing. But in this world, people do — so she's using that to her advantage.