The inauguration is fast approaching, and Michelle Obama isn’t the only one who wants to wear a beautiful dress to the ball. We’ve combed stores for the best gowns for all figures, occasions, and budgets and come up with several great options. Whether you’re headed to an official ball, a gala, or just a great party in your friend’s backyard (heated, we hope!), you’re sure to find something fabulous in our list.
If you’re headed to an inaugural event, chances are your outfit is a significant portion of your budget. After all, you want to remember the historic occasion with a similarly historic wardrobe choice.
>> See our Frugal Fashionista: Inauguration Outfit for Under $200
For those still in search of the perfect look, we asked Alison Lukes, fashion consultant and the force behind Alison Lukes et Cie, about the do’s and don’ts of this inaugural season.
As Washingtonians frantically finalize plans for inaugural activities, over at Frugal Fashionista we’ve been brainstorming ideas for a swoon-worthy outfit for less than the price of most inaugural tickets. And who better to enlist for the task than former Miss DC and K Street Kate blogger Kate Michael? The pageant queen and model knows a thing (or 30) about dressing up, but she admits to frequently dropping more than a few Benjamins on dresses and shoes.
Before we got started, Michael was rattling off questions like a pro: Long or short? Was a bag included? Were any stores off limits? Even better, she was offering advice. It turns out that many of her pageant gowns, despite their black-tie formality, can’t be worn to events such as a ball—mostly because they have a train, which would rip or be soiled in a large crowd.
So we made the task hard for this veteran shopper—$200, no more, for a full inaugural-ball-worthy outfit that she herself would consider sporting to an upcoming event.
As far as rules go, we assumed that Michael was searching for a dress she’d wear herself but that her wardrobe was admittedly more limited than it is. We assumed she owned basic undergarments and tights—but nothing fancy.
Here’s what she found:
Inaugural balls are places to see and be seen. But, oh, the horror of showing up in the same dress somebody else is wearing!
Enter DressRegistry.com. It’s a Web site that allows you to “register” your dress for an inaugural event in hopes that no one else will wear the same one.
As of this writing, there are 55 balls listed on the site. Some, like the recently-announced Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, have no dresses claimed. But others have more than a dozen. The Commander-in-Chief Ball, for example, has 21 dresses registered.
Posters on the site have the option to include details about their garb, such as the designer, color, length, and neckline. For the seriously Type-A partygoer, there’s also space to enter your dress’s UPC number, the code that specifically identifies it, leaving no question as to which dress you’re wearing. To further clarify, a description and a photo can be added.