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Though the First Lady’s ballgown didn’t wow us, plenty of others did. By Diana Elbasha

The inaugural festivities provide Washington one of its biggest opportunities to show off its sense of style, with countless black-tie soirees, cocktail celebrations, and sacred ceremonies calling for high society to don only their very best looks. There were some clear winners this year—like the Thom Browne coat Michelle Obama wore during the inauguration ceremony (see below)—and some that didn’t do so well (see our take on the First Lady’s inaugural ballgown). Here are the clothes and accessories that stood out to us.

Michelle Obama’s Coat-Dress
The fashion world was shocked to hear of classy Michelle Obama wearing out-there Thom Browne, but the result defined perfection. Browne, whose collections comprise wacky, repurposed menswear, custom-made the piece with a jacquard print inspired by a men’s necktie. The First Lady paired it with a J.Crew belt. Honorable mention: the black sequin Michael Kors dress—and arm party—she wore to an inaugural celebration at the National Building Museum a day earlier.

Beyoncé’s Entire Outfit
The floor-length Emilio Pucci gown, the Lorraine Schwartz gems, the bombshell curls—it all came together flawlessly (even if she did lip-sync the National Anthem).

Eva Longoria’s Leather Coat
Given Longoria’s always-elegant appearance and increasing influence in Washington, we’re surprised she didn’t get more attention yesterday. Her long, pinkish leather coat is straight out of Bally’s resort 2013 collection.

Sasha Obama’s Monochrome
Her gloves and scarf were almost the exact periwinkle shade of her girly, skater-hem Kate Spade coat, which when unbuttoned revealed an equally adorable striped dress of the same brand. The outfit was classy yet age-appropriate, and earns bonus points for the affordable American brand.

Katy Perry’s Orange-and-Black Stripes
Though the colors sound risky, the striped woven coat from Rodarte’s Fall 2012 collection worked surprisingly well for the pop star, who returned to black hair for the occasion. Also of note: Katy’s hat, a mini version of Aretha Franklin’s from the 2009 ceremony.

Jill Biden’s Big Bow
The silk-and-wool Lela Rose coat was stunning against Jill Biden’s blonde hair and white lace dress of the same label, but what really made it a standout is the feminine statement bow just below the collar. Honorable mention: her royal blue Vera Wang ballgown.

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Posted at 05:05 PM/ET, 01/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The First Lady chose a dress by the same designer she wore in 2009. By Diana Elbasha

President Obama and Mrs. Obama last night. Photograph by Erin Keane.

One thing so many love about Michelle Obama’s wardrobe is her tendency to bring attention to the little guys—her 2009 inaugural debut in a dazzling Jason Wu chiffon gown catapulted the otherwise unknown designer to fame, earning him multiple A-list clients and a collaboration with Target, among other feats.

So when Women’s Wear Daily published an alleged shortlist of designers for the First Lady’s second inaugural ballgown, we were so excited to see younger names—Prabal Gurung and Thakoon, to name a couple—in the running alongside top labels like Marchesa and Narciso Rodriguez. Cue our ultra-high hopes for an equally mind-blowing jewel-toned gown that would expose the stellar talents of the lesser known, and, much like Michelle’s amazing Thom Browne coat at the morning’s inauguration ceremony, surpass that of 2009.

But we were, dare we say, not all that impressed by the First Lady’s choice this time around. We’d been talking about Michelle’s appearance at the ball for days, but with a repeated designer and a comparatively simple overall look, the monumental reveal wasn’t nearly as exciting as we’d anticipated.

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Posted at 03:05 PM/ET, 01/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Dress up your inaugural ball outfit this weekend with these luxe pieces. By Diana Elbasha

Equally important as the coveted inaugural ballgown are its accessories—and with royal blues, deep violets, and bright emeralds trending lately, you needn’t be shy with the gems come Sunday. Wearing bold jewelry is your chance to get creative, and an opulent necklace can transform even the simplest dress. We’ve pulled 16 lovely earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces—all under $50 and most available at local retailers—that evoke creativity and class without the high-end price tag.

Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 01/17/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Proenza Schouler and Tory Burch are among those behind the extended Runway to Win collection. By Diana Elbasha
Photographs courtesy of the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

The result of a rare collaboration between America’s highest powers of politics and fashion— Barack Obama and Anna Wintour, respectively—23 designers last year launched the Runway to Win line, a collection of pro-Obama merchandise sold during the peak of the President’s reelection campaign. While the original collection (which featured patriotic merch by Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and others) is long gone, we were pleasantly surprised to find a few new items at the official Presidential Inauguration Store, which opened at Metro Center this weekend.

First Lady favorites Tracy Reese and Narciso Rodriguez are among the designers behind the new mini lineup. The eight T-shirts, tote bags, and hoods ($45 to $75) are refreshingly casual and affordable, and the hallmarks of each label—like Tory Burch’s double-T logo—are hidden; the name “Obama” steals the attention on each piece.

Shop the collection at the Presidential Inauguration Store at 1155 F Street, Northwest (open until January 25) or online.

Posted at 02:55 PM/ET, 01/16/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Score Reem Acra, Christian Siriano, and Moschino for just a couple hundred bucks. By Diana Elbasha
Rent the Runway pops up with some beautiful dresses—like Michelle Obama’s Tracy Reese favorite—at LivingSocial this weekend. Photographs by Diana Elbasha.

Online shopping can be a major convenience—you can browse multiple sites in the same time it would take to comb through just one brick-and-mortar. But there’s always a risk factor, like, say, when a coral gown actually arrives in bright orange, and in a size too big.

For those who too often find themselves in such circumstances, Rent the Runway’s Faith in Fashion’s Future showroom at LivingSocial this weekend is a savior. Open through Sunday at 918 F Street, the event brings together some of the site’s most popular designs, which are all for rent at a fraction of the cost of purchasing your own—perfect for inauguration weekend events, from a black-tie ball to Sunday brunch. Tickets, which get you a one-on-one session with one of six RTR stylists and a tote bag, are $8 online.

I told my stylist I wanted a simple, floor-length gown with straps, and within two minutes I had a violet Nicole Miller dress (rentable for $100) in my hands and a Kate Spade necklace ($45) from the Bling Bar—a table full of clutches and statement jewelry—to accompany it.

The showroom features a range of black-tie and cocktail gowns from high-end designers such as Christian Siriano, Versace, and Pamela Rolland.

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Posted at 04:45 PM/ET, 01/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Discounts, special events, and more. By Diana Elbasha
Who says Michelle Obama gets to be the only one with a gorgeous dress for the inaugural balls? Photograph by Charles Dharapak/AP Images.

The inaugural ball is unquestionably one of Washington’s most lavish affairs—and with the range of official and unofficial celebrations at countless venues this year, it seems an event exists for any taste. But with the many invitations to these fine soirees come some serious dilemmas: namely, what to wear and how on earth to pay for multiple black-tie ensembles. Thankfully there are multiple shows and sales to help you navigate the shopping and primping processes. Here are a few that can help you out.

This is my vacation—I don’t want to leave the hotel.
If you’re staying at the Park Hyatt for inauguration, you’ve saved yourself a shopping trip: Saks hosts a pop-up shop on the mezzanine level of the hotel from Friday to Sunday that weekend, to include jewelry, furs, cufflinks, and other ball-appropriate items. The hotel can even arrange for beauty consultations at the guest’s request. 1201 24th St., NW; 202-789-1234.

Help! The party’s in an hour, and my outfit is full of wrinkles.
On inauguration night, Nordstrom at Pentagon City will host its popular Drive-by Bow Tie event: Procrastinating partygoers can step in from 5 to 8:30 PM to take advantage of a range of outfit-polishing services, from jewelry cleaning to shoe shining, or pick up accessories at a special inaugural shop. Also at Nordstrom this Thursday evening, stylists will be on-site to help stumped shoppers—men included—put together their inaugural ensembles. Meet with one of the consultants from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. 1400 S. Hayes St., Arlington; 703-415-1121.

I want to support local designers.
Organized by the team behind DC Fashion Week, the Washington Presidential Inauguration Fashion Show will showcase evening gowns by Washington-based Ean Williams, Jovanna Reyes, and Concept OM, just to name a few. Admission to the event, held on the Sunday before inauguration at the Crystal City Doubletree hotel, is $40, or $80 for front-row seating. Purchase tickets online. 300 Army Navy Dr., Arlington; 703-416-4100.

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Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 01/10/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Nothing says gala affair quite like sleek silver paired with the simplicity of black—and a hint of sparkle. By Kate Bennett

Photograph by Michael Kraus

1. Mesh Well

Oval minaudière evening clutch at $170

2. Crystal Ball

Black-bead-and-crystal statement necklace, at White House Black Market (area stores). $78

3. Bold and Silver

Reese metallic leather clutch by Jimmy Choo, at Saks Fifth Avenue (Chevy Chase). $650

4. Stepping Out

Miu Miu suede high heel with jewel detail, at 10022-SHOE at Saks Fifth Avenue (Chevy Chase). $553

5. Ring It In

Cushion ring of black onyx and diamonds, at David Yurman (Tysons Galleria). $1,150

6. Looking Glass

Chandelier drop earrings by Ben Amun, at Charm Georgetown (2910 M St., NW; 202-298-0420). $285

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 01/02/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()