Amid the pageantry of Inauguration Day, the power of fashion cannot be overlooked. Just the opposite: It is designed and created with symbolism in mind.
So what to make of it all?
Melania Trump, in a powder blue Ralph Lauren suit and matching gloves, seemed to be channeling Jackie Kennedy on this cloudy inaugural Friday. The new first lady, and former model, looked elegant in the fitted cashmere sheath dress, topped with a matching shrug jacket that featured a folded cowl neckline. Her hair, often worn down, was pulled back into a soft, stylish updo.
Blue was also the color of choice for former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, and new Vice President Mike Pence, all of whom wore various shades of blue neckties with their dark suits for the big day.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, opted for his usual bright red tie, worn long — as is his style. As perfectly tailored as the first lady’s dress was, the president’s suit was floppy and ill-fitting, a look he seems unwilling to part with. Trump generally wears very expensive Brioni suits — that nonetheless look as if they could be found on the clearance rack at the Men’s Warehouse.
Before the inaugural ceremony, the Trumps joined the Obamas for a traditional tea at the White House, with the outgoing president and first lady — holding hands and leaning into each other — stationed on the steps to welcome the motorcade.
Michelle Obama, often celebrated for her striking fashion choices and outreach to young designers, donned a simple, short sleeve burgundy dress, trimmed with a thin black belt and heels. Understated and without flourish, Obama’s choice generously put the spotlight on the new first lady, who came bearing a gift for the Obamas in what looked to be a Tiffany box.
The first ladies were not the only women to make strong fashion statements at the swearing in of the 45th president.
Democratic presidential candidate — and former first lady — Hillary Clinton arrived in a refined (and perhaps symbolic) head-to-toe white pantsuit alongside her husband, former President Bill Clinton. It was one of the few times since losing the election that Hillary Clinton has been seen in a high-profile public setting. She has, in recent weeks, more often been photographed in chunky fleece sweaters, walking in the woods near her home in New York. The cream suit she wore on the dais Friday was more in keeping with the style Clinton always preferred on the campaign trail rather than the hiking trail.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, also chose a creamy white for the inauguration: an Oscar de la Renta fitted jacket over narrow pants, according to Harper’s Bazaar. Her younger half sister, Tiffany Trump, wore a bright white double-breasted coat with black ankle boots, a combination that looked as if it had been put together during a (too) quick shopping run to Forever 21. Given the weather forecast for showers and brisk temperatures on Friday, so much white was something of a brave fashion choice.
And then there was Kellyanne Conway, who decided to go in, well, a different stylistic direction. The senior adviser to Donald Trump arrived at the inauguration wearing a $3,600 Gucci red, white, and blue ensemble, trimmed with buttons shaped like cats. Yes, cats. Conway quipped to reporters that it was “Trump Revolutionary Wear,” though reportedly the Italian-made look was designed with London in mind.
Whatever its roots, Conway’s look did blaze a unique trail. In addition to the belted, patriotic coat, Conway wore a red cloche hat and red gloves. Given the color combination, she could have worn a Make America Great Again baseball cap and called it a day.
The Internet had a lot to say about Conway’s outfit:
The cat buttons were of particular interest
Hayley Kaufman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.