Expert Interview: Inauguration Fashion

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.

What are the top trends in eveningwear this season?

“We’re between seasons,” says Lukes. “Many high-profile women will be in spring 2009 collections, but fall and winter styles will also make a strong showing. American designers will be celebrated, particularly names like Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, and Ralph Lauren. In this economy, supporting American designers is definitely in style.”

As far as color goes, Lukes predicts that all shades of the rainbow will be in vogue, particularly blues. Florals and pastels are huge again for spring, she notes, but it’s probably too early for most to make an appearance at inaugural events.

And the cuts of the dresses? Silhouettes will likely be classic, with strapless making a strong showing.

Is it permissible to wear a short dress to black-tie events—particularly those associated with inauguration?

“Some traditions are worth honoring and I think this is one of them,” she says. “For any of the inaugural galas, stick with a long dress.”

What are your favorite places to shop for eveningwear?

Lukes admits that she loves Saks Jandel, Neiman Marcus in Tysons Galleria, and Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase but acknowledges that you don’t have to buy designer to look stunning. Labels such as J. Crew, Ann Taylor, and Nordstrom are all great bets, too. “Michelle Obama buys off the rack, so can we all,” she says.

What are your do’s and don’ts of evening dressing?

Lukes has some quick tips:
• Do dress for your body type.
• Do wear Spanx when needed.
• Don’t wear fur—it’s not appropriate this inaugural season.
• Don’t wear jewelry or accessories that will hold you up at security checkpoints.
• If you’re going to wear black, make it your own and be bold with accessories and jewelry.
• Do consider metallics—they’re easy to glam up a simple dress.

It’s going to be cold—what do you wear over your dress?

“Don’t be afraid to dress for the weather—there are coat checks at all of the events,” Lukes says. Also, remember that you’re going to have to walk—taxis will be at a premium. “Wear a pair of ballet flats—Tory Burch has a pair that can fold into a purse—and carry your heels in a shoe bag to change into once you’re inside.”

After all, you want avoid sore feet and blisters so you can dance the night away!

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