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What Even Is A Coat? A Guide To The Inauguration's Big Coat Energy For Confused Angelenos

Kamala Harris (left), Jill Biden (center) and Michelle Obama (right) attend the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. (Left: David Tulis. Center: Patrick Semansky. Right: Jim Lo Scalzo. All for Getty Images)
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What even is a coat? Between the naturally warm weather here in Los Angeles and the increasingly warm winters wrought by climate change, many of us who live here don't know.

Fights over the office thermostat notwithstanding, unless you're the kind of person who pulls out the full-length puffer whenever the mercury dips below 65° (and we do know some of you) you might not, as an Angeleno, be familiar with the concept of coats.

And yet, there they were, in a dazzling assortment of colors and styles at today's inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

So what is this strange thing known as a coat?

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In its most basic terms, it is "an outer garment worn on the upper body" that varies "in length and style according to fashion and use." (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.)

How often do you actually need one if you live in Los Angeles in the year 2021? Approximately 7.2 nights per year, according to science we just made up.

We jest. But only a little. Watching Biden's presidential inauguration, we were struck by the array of gorgeous coats. They were so beautiful they almost made us want to move to a region where we'd need to wear one on a regular basis. Almost. Instead, we'll enjoy today's parade of stylish outerwear while wearing shorts, a tank top and a scarf.

First question: Did somebody send out a memo instructing female inauguration attendees that they had to wear a monochromatic look, preferably in jewel tones? Because this does not seem like coincidence.

First Lady Jill Biden chose an ocean blue tweed coat embroidered with Swarovski crystals. It was designed by Alexandra O'Neill for Markarian, a brand focused on sustainability. Her husbad, POTUS Joe Biden, wore a classy but unmemorable black coat.

Incoming U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, arrive for the inauguration.

Vice President Kamala Harris opted for a purple midi-length coat by Black designer Christopher John Rogers. According to CNN's Abby Phillip, Harris chose the color in honor of Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president in 1972. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff wore a classy but unmemorable black coat.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at the inauguration of Joe Biden.
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Who needs another sheath dress? Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama wore a stunning maroon (some are calling it plum) outfit. The matching turtleneck, pants and floor-length coat, designed by another black designer, Sergio Hudson, when combined with her gold belt buckle, made her look like a superhero, maybe for the next season of Watchmen. Will her look inspire a trend? We hope so. Her husband, former POTUS Barack Obama, wore a classy but unmemorable black coat.

National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

Amanda Gorman, who stole the show at today's ceremony, wore a canary yellow Prada coat. Befitting a writer, her outfit incorporated plenty of symbolism. She told Vogue:

"One thing I can say is that I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing a ring that has a caged bird, to symbolize I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I'm also wearing a yellow coat, which is my own nod to Dr. Jill Biden, who was the one who recommended me in the first place, and I'm so honored by that. She said, 'I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it.'"

The coat was stunning but once Gorman started speaking, it was her poetry that drew more attention.

Fun Fact: Before she became the U.S.'s first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, Gorman was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2014.

Cole (left) and Ella Emhoff (right), the children of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, arrive for the inauguration of Joe Biden.

With its crystal-studded shoulders, Ella Emhoff's beige plaid Miu Miu Shetland Pied De Poule coat was another scene-stealer. Emhoff is a textile-design student at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, so the high fashion choice makes sense. Her brother, Cole, wore a classy but unmemorable black coat.

Jennifer Lopez is escorted to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.

Jennifer Lopez was a vision in white. She opted for a frilly white blouse, flowing white slacks with a blingy gold chain belt and a long white coat. It was Chanel from head to toe, according to Cosmopolitan.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi arrives with her husband, Paul Pelosi, during the inauguration of Joe Biden.

Continuing the jewel tone theme, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wore a comparatively short blue coat, designer unknown, in a shade similar to Jill Biden's. It came with a matching scarf, gloves and face mask. Her husband, Paul Pelosi, wore a classy but unmemorable black coat.

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar donned the same mustard yellow coat she wore when she announced her run for the presidency in early 2019. The yellow coat combined with her maroon scarf were "a subtle nod to the colors of the University of Minnesota," reports the Washington Post. Her husband, John Bessler, wore a classy but unmemorable black coat.

Naomi Biden and Natalie Biden, granddaughters of Joe Biden, arrive at his inauguration.

Two of Biden's granddaughters also chose monochromatic looks — Naomi chose white while Finnegan opted for tan — anchored by turtlenecks with matching slacks and coats.

Natalie Biden, in pink, walks with her grandfather, U.S. President Joe Biden, and other members of her family up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House on January 20, 2021.

Another POTUS grandchild, Natalie Biden, who is something of a Gen Z style icon, chose a pink cashmere coat made by American brand Lafayette 148 and knee-high brown suede boots. Biden has seven grandkids, by the way.

Janet Yellen, U.S. Treasury secretary nominee, attends the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Some chose comfort over style. Janet Yellen, the nominee to head the U.S. Treasury Department, bundled up in a big, black puffer coat.

Senator Bernie Sanders attends the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.

The Senator from Vermont showed off his homestate pride with a light brown winter coat, made in Burlington, and hand-knit mittens made by St. Essex teacher Jen Ellis. Yes, this is the same coat Bernie Sanders wore in the "I am once again asking" meme. This one has also become a meme.

BONUS: It's not a coat but Lady Gaga's outfit with the poofy satin red skirt, black jacket and ginormous gold brooch that looked like it was going to fly off her shoulder and peck out Mike Pence's eyes was fire. The capper was the gold mic she used when singing. Gaga does not have a husband but if she did, we trust he would have worn a classy but unmemorable black coat.

What does any of this say about politics, culture, the Presidency or our future as a nation? We have no idea. We just like pretty clothes.

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