Sat. Sep 18th, 2021


Vermont’s veteran Senator Bernie Sanders may have lost out to the new president of the United States Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic nomination last year, but for many social media users, progressive figurehead Sanders outshone Biden in the fashion stakes in Washington yesterday.

Former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders sits in the bleachers on Capitol Hill with his now famous mittens.

Former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders sits in the bleachers on Capitol Hill with his now famous mittens. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Sander’s outfit rapidly became an internet meme, seeing him photoshopped into historic photos, comic panels and the subway, while sitting, arms folded, wrapped up warm against the DC winter weather, wearing a spectacular pair of mittens. Indeed, #BerniesMittens became one of the trending hashtags of the inauguration.

Heather Hill
(@Tvini)

I am once again asking for some coffee. #berniesmittens pic.twitter.com/CDVFbnx0oo


January 21, 2021

Ellen Moorhouse
(@EllenMftw)

#berniesmittens takes on #thequeensgambit in a chess match for the ages. pic.twitter.com/CeU5fBcGWd


January 21, 2021

matt apodACAB
(@mattapodaca)

pic.twitter.com/fsSqLn17XY


January 20, 2021

Alex Cohen
(@anothercohen)

When you get invited to a meeting but it should have been an email pic.twitter.com/RxnM0QWask


January 20, 2021

Broomfield-Boulder Now
(@ocn_entertains)

that one FRIEND who’s always cold… 😆#berniesmittens pic.twitter.com/vgF2ovVNIB


January 20, 2021

Fraser Wilson 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇪🇺
(@FraserWilson95)

Fixed it pic.twitter.com/DhW9JO20wG


January 20, 2021

There was also political speculation about what might be fuelling the Senator’s apparent mood.

molly conger
(@socialistdogmom)

when joe biden asks me to seek unity with fascists pic.twitter.com/WhPU4z3QQB


January 20, 2021

And this appears to be true.

Jean O’Dwyer
(@DrJeanODwyer)

If you add googly eyes to #berniesmittens, 2021 becomes a little more tolerable. pic.twitter.com/vIFWofRKuH


January 20, 2021

Asked about his outfit, Sanders told CBS News in an interview after the ceremony “In Vermont, we dress warm — we know something about the cold. We’re not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today.”

For those keen to get the Sanders inauguration look, internet sleuths including Buzzfeed’s political reporter Ruby Cramer soon tracked down the origin of the mittens. They had been given to the Senator a couple of years ago by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis.

Asked about his outfit, Sanders told CBS News in an interview after the ceremony “In Vermont, we dress warm — we know something about the cold. We’re not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today.”

For those keen to get the Sanders inauguration look, internet sleuths including Buzzfeed’s political reporter Ruby Cramer soon tracked down the origin of the mittens. They had been given to the Senator a couple of years ago by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis.

Ruby Cramer
(@rubycramer)

Bernie’s mittens are made by Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, Vt. She gave them to him 2+ years ago and was surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. pic.twitter.com/ErLr29lY2t


January 20, 2021

The mittens are made from repurposed sweaters and recycled plastic by the 42-year-old second grade teacher who lives in Essex Junction, Vermont, just outside of Burlington where Sanders was mayor in the 1980s.

Interviewed on Wednesday night by Jewish Insider after the mittens had gone viral, Ellis said “He must really like them if he chose to wear them.”

“It’s been unexpected” she said of their sudden social media fame, but also confessed that she was not a regular social media user, and was struggling to remember the login for her Twitter account.

Jen Ellis
(@vtawesomeness)

I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple years ago. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles). #BerniesMittens pic.twitter.com/lTXFJvVy9V


January 21, 2020

The global exposure was also not going to lead to a financial windfall – “I don’t have any mittens to sell. I don’t really do it a lot anymore. I’m flattered that they want them, but there are lots of people on Etsy who sell them and hopefully people will get some business from them. But I’m not going to quit my day job. I am a second grade teacher, and I’m a mom, and all that keeps me really busy. There’s no possible way I could make 6,000 pairs of mittens, and every time I go into my email, another several hundred people have emailed me.”

She went on to say “I hate to disappoint people, but the mittens, they’re one-of-a-kind and they’re unique and sometimes in this world, you just can’t get everything you want.”

In other exciting news for meme veterans, Sanders was wearing the same practical and sturdy coat that had become internet famous in a video where the Senator had appealed for financial support at the end of 2019.

Bernie Sanders
(@BernieSanders)

The truth is, we have an excellent chance to win the primary and beat Trump.

But the only way we can do that is if we have the sufficient financial resources.

So I am asking you today to contribute to our campaign before the FEC deadline: https://t.co/9y9BZMs0GM pic.twitter.com/wnYbUDBynW


December 30, 2019

Since that post, the picture has appeared repeatedly on social media, with the caption replaced to say “I am once again asking…” followed by a joking topical reference.

An earlier photo from the day, picturing Sanders carrying a folder of documents, also caused a stir on social media when director Rian Johnson responded to a fan who had photoshopped the label “Knives Out 2 script” onto the folder. Johnson jokingly suggested he had given a draft script of the keenly anticipated potential sequel to 2019’s surprise hit movie Knives Out– but had heard nothing back yet.

Rian Johnson
(@rianjohnson)

Gave it to him like 3 weeks ago and still waiting on notes wtf https://t.co/313P9zu4ax


January 20, 2021

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