For better or worse, Michelle Obama surprised us at the inaugural ball last year by appearing in the now-iconic red gown by Jason Wu—the same designer who made the embellished cream-colored dress she wore to the same event four years earlier. What a First Lady wears to the ultra-exposed inauguration ceremonies is a major decision, which typically involves months of planning and tapping various designers for gown sketches—and that the young Jason Wu (who has since catapulted to fame) was selected twice speaks volumes.
Fashion-wise, one of the first showstopping moments on Scandal was in the show’s third episode, when Olivia Pope arrived at a swanky state dinner wearing a white gown. Gone were the bleak grays and blacks that until then dominated her pantsuit-filled wardrobe, and out came a gal who we’d very soon find had impeccable taste in style.
For DC’s working ladies—particularly those in government fields—gala season is the time of year to let their glamorous side take the spotlight. In a town where pencil skirts, neutrals, and minimal makeup abound in the workplace (though, definitely not all workplaces), Washington’s black-tie affairs provide us the opportunity to show the world we can be simultaneously elegant and edgy. In honor of the increasingly stunning gowns that are making their way onto the screen (we recently spotted some refreshing Rubin Singer, shown above) here’s a look back at the eveningwear our style crush has worn throughout the show.
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 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.
It’s not every year the Washington social calendar fills up with ball after cocktail hour after black-tie event after the holidays are over. In fact, it’s only every four years—during the presidential inauguration. And even though we won’t be ushering in a new POTUS this time around, there will still be plenty of occasions around town that require sparkly jewels and floor-sweeping skirts. For those of you lucky enough to attend a ball or two, Georgetown boutique Hu’s Wear has got your impending wardrobe crisis covered. Now through November 30, its Inauguration Salon is filled with luxurious furs, sparkly minaudieres, designer gowns, and sky-high heels ready to take you through all sorts of celebratory occasions.