BERNIE Sanders became an unexpected style icon at US President Joe Biden's inauguration. Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez may have performed in eye-catching outfits, there was a rainbow of colourful coats on parade – purple for vice-president Kamala Harris, sunshine yellow for poet Amanda Gorman – yet all eyes were on the thick, woolly mittens worn by the Vermont senator.

Did you say mittens?

Correct. The former US presidential hopeful drew admiring glances for the patterned brown and cream mittens he wore while bundled up against the chilly temperatures in Washington DC.

Is there a story behind the mittens?

A very sweet one. They were made by Jen Ellis, a second-grade teacher from Essex Junction, Vermont. She gave them to Sanders a couple of years ago and was surprised to first see him wearing them on the campaign trail. The mittens are created from repurposed wool jumpers and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles.

HeraldScotland: Bernie Sanders and his mittens at the 2021 presidential inauguration. Pictures: GettyBernie Sanders and his mittens at the 2021 presidential inauguration. Pictures: Getty

Who is a fan?

Um, everyone. The singer Dionne Warwick signalled her approval on Twitter saying, "Looking warm." Actor Bradley Whitford – who played White House deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman in TV show The West Wing – tweeted, "One of the reasons people love @SenSanders is they know he would have worn exactly the same thing if he had won the presidency."

As one observer wryly noted: "Bernie dressed like the inauguration is on his to-do list today but ain't his whole day."

Anything else?

Well, it did spark a flurry of memes, but they were all good-natured. A now viral image of Sanders sitting socially distanced, his mitten-clad hands proudly on show, has been edited into various settings, including scenes from Game of Thrones and Star Wars.

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He has been photoshopped onto a bench next to Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, in detention alongside the teenagers from The Breakfast Club and perched beside New York construction workers in the famous black and white photograph, Lunch Atop A Skyscraper, from the 1930s.

How are we describing this phenomenon?

Some are using "Vermont dadcore", but we prefer "big mitten energy".

Why do people love the mittens so much?

Pure joy. Julie Andrews had it right when she sang about warm woollen mittens alongside raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens in the Sound of Music classic My Favourite Things.

But aren't gloves better?

Perhaps for dexterity, but the trade-off is that mittens are warmer than gloves because our fingers hold heat better when grouped together in a single space.

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Where can I get my mitts on some mittens?

Jen Ellis, who gifted the pair to Sanders, has been inundated with thousands of emails from folk asking if she can rustle up some mittens for them too. Ellis has politely declined, adding: "I'm not going to quit my day job."