First Lady Fashion, The Inaugurations

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Whether the role is mom to a nation, a diva that slays all day or something in between, first lady fashion worn at inaugurations can be a guilty pleasure for the most stoic partisan. Whatever your political tastes, inauguration fashion is definitely a topic for the entire audience. I have listed a the most recent first ladies who set a tone as aspirational trendsetters. Plus a first lady and fashion icon of the 20th century, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who arguably set a high bar for all fashionable first ladies who followed in her footsteps. These are the “first looks” or there very first outfits as FLOTUS.

First Lady Fashion, Jackie Kennedy. Michelle Obama, Melania Trump
First Lady Fashion, Jackie Kennedy. Michelle Obama, Melania Trump. Outfits at Inaugurations.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jackie Kennedy Onassis is the hallmark of style when it comes to first lady fashion in the modern era. At one time it was de rigeur to add a hat and gloves as finish touches to your outfit. Throughout her life, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis continued to be a major influencer for the fashion conscious.

First Lady Fashion, Jackie Kennedy, Inauguration 1961
Former First Lady Jackie Kennedy in a coat by Oleg Cassini and pillbox hat by Halston

A fashion fact that may not be well-known is that the powder blue hat and coat Jackie Kennedy Onassis wore at the inauguration, was in fact not blue at all. The photographic technology at the time was nor very accurate when it came to rendering the hues of subjects. The actual color of the coat made by her courtier Oleg Cassini, is a neutral beige according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Jacquline Kennedy inauguration outfit wasn't really blue but beige
Jackie Kennedy’s hat and coat appeared blue due to the photographic technology at that time.
Jackie Kennedy's 1961 inauguration coat by Oleg Cassini
Coat by Oleg Cassin, worn by Jackie Kennedy at the 1961 Inaguration

The matching pillbox hat was designed by Halston. The hat was accidentally dimpled by Jackie Kennedy and was meant to be dome shaped. Nonetheless, the pillbox hat and the fur collared cloth coat set the trend for fashion watchers. Her cloth hat and coat outfit had a modern edge in contrast with the fur hats and fur coats worn by many of the other attendees.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama broke barriers and set a fashion tone as Mom for a Nation. The casual style that Michelle Obama wore set trends as much as the looks she wore to glam events. For her very first look as First Lady, Michelle Obama wore a matching yellow-gold dress and coat by Isabel Toledo. The designer described the color of the wool laced ensemble as “lemon grass” and indicative of rebirth and renewal. The newly minted FLOTUS wore a Nina Ricci Cardigan under the coat and paired the outfit with sage J. Crew leather gloves and green Jimmy Choo heels.

First Lady Fashion, Michelle Obama, Inauguration 2009
Former First Lady Michelle Obama in a dress and coat by Isabel Toledo. Nina Ricci cardigan, and Jimmy Choo pumps.

The second inauguration look was decidedly more muted in color but with a blue and black checked pattern that gave interest and a little edge to the coat. She accessorized the Thom Browne coat with a J. Crew belt, J. Crew purple gloves and Reed Krakoff boots.

First Lady Fashion, Michelle Obama, Inauguration 2013
Former First Lady Michelle Obama in a coat by Thom Browne and Reed Krakoff boots.

Her attendance at the most recent inauguration at the time this article was written, (the inauguration of Joseph Biden, Jr, and Kamala Harris), was definitely a “drop the mike” moment. Michelle Obama wore a plum colored outfit by Sergio Hudson. The outfit consisted of a monochromatic, purple-hued turtleneck sweater, wide-legged pants and a floor length coat. She wore with this outfit suede, block-heeled Stuart Weitzman boots, leather gloves and a Christy Rilling black silk mask.

First Lady Fashion, Michelle Obama, Inauguration 2021
Former First Lady Michelle Obama dressed in an outfit by Sergio Hudson with Stuart Weitzman boots

Melania Trump

Melania Trump as First Lady, (or should I say First Diva) definitely slays all-day. A Jackie Kennedy for the modern age in the sense that she is a serious student of fashion. In the modern era, women have careers and given that in her previous life she was a fashion model, she would bring that to the table in her star style as first lady. Many media outlets noted that Melania Trump paid homage to Jackie Kennedy Onassis when she chose a powder blue Ralph Lauren coat and dress for her day look in 2017.

First Lady Fashion, Melania Trump, Inauguration 2017
Former First Lady Melania Trump in a dress and coat by Ralph Lauren.

But we know, as mentioned above, that the outfit worn by Jackie Kennedy Onassis was actually beige in color. But that’s okay isn’t it? Just like George Washington and the cherry tree, myth in politics can be extended to inaugural fashion lore. Incidentally, Melania Trump went all in with the powder blue palette and accessorized with shoes and gloves in that color.

Jill Biden

In her initial first lady fashion outfit, Dr Jill Biden chose a turquoise tweed coat with deeper turquoise hued velvet lapels. The coat was designed by Alexandra O’Neill for the label Markarian. She color matched with silk mask, by Markarian, turquoise gloves and deep-turquoise Jimmy Choo heels.

First Lady Fashion, Jill Biden, Inauguration 2021
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in a coat by Alexandra O’Neill for Markarian and Jimmy Choo pumps

We know one thing possibly. Dr Jill Biden is a respected educator but that doesn’t mean she is ignorant of the fashion tips known by any well-versed fashionista. Here, later in the day, Jill Biden changed into nude pumps and every fashion maven knows nude or flesh-toned heels will give you a sleek, leggy look.

First Lady Fashion, Jill Biden, Inauguration 2021
First Lady Fashion, Jill Biden, Inauguration 2021

And how will Dr. Jill Biden, lead the fashion nation? Time will tell. But whatever the look of her first lady fashion, from her past dress-sense it will surely be elegant and polished.

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