Over fifty years post women’s suffrage, a Vermont governor, not a first lady, wore a gown to an inauguration.
Throughout her career, former Vermont Governor, Madeline Kunin, broke this and many other barriers for women in politics. Governor Kunin recently donated her three inaugural gowns to the Vermont Historical Society. They are on view, alongside an exploration of Kunin’s life and political career, in the National Life Gallery at the Vermont History Museum.
Clothing and textiles can be richly symbolic objects, and Kunin’s gowns are no exception. Clothing worn to public events by female politicians is still a subject of intense interest and debate. Kunin put it succinctly: “When women lead, they have to think about what to wear.”
“When Women Lead: Governor Madeleine Kunin of Vermont” is on view through January 2021.