From Mamie to Michelle, Everything About Inaugural Gowns Are Wonderful

Sasha and Malia's Style
A look back at the First Daughters' fashion through the years.
Michelle Obama's Style
A look at the First Lady's stylish campaign for the White House.
The date is set. Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Kelly Clarkson are all booked to perform. DC shopkeepers are rolling out the commemorative buttons and the parade floats have been designed. That leaves just one critical detail to be resolved for the inauguration: What will Michelle Obama wear to the 2013 Inaugural Ball?

Back in 2009 a little-known designer named Jason Wu made Mrs. Obama’s first inauguration dress. He was just 26 and a Parsons alum. The First Lady didn’t decide what she’d wear until that morning, and the designer didn’t realize his white one-shoulder creation would get the inaugural treatment until he saw it on TV.

With President Obama’s second inauguration festivities kicking off on Sunday with his official swearing in, the fashion world is buzzing about who the next designer will be to dress the First Lady this year.

What made Mrs. Obama’s first inaugural gown such a big deal — and why are we so excited to see what she wears tomorrow?

To highlight what a game-changer Mrs. Obama’s first inaugural gown — and the Isabella Toledo ensemble she wore to the actual inauguration — we’re putting her inaugural ensemble into context, with a look at how the ethereal white Jason Wu dress stood out from the inaugural fashion worn by First Ladies in the past.

Both Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush were double-term first ladies. They both went bright for their first inauguration (Clinton in bedazzled blue and Bush in sparkly red), and then toned it down with white gowns the second time around.

Considering that Mrs. Obama went white first, will she do the opposite and go for color this time? Maybe pink like she wore to the Democratic National Convention? And what about all those other first ladies from years past?

We’ve rounded up the best inaugural styles dating all the way back to the 1700’s. They’ve done lavender and yellow, sequins, fur and velvet (lots and lots of velvet). One first lady even wore a recycled garb.

Bottom line: It looks like Mrs.Obama’s gown will safely make it to the top of the best-dressed inaugural gown list in just about anything she chooses.

Click through our gallery for a look back at inaugural gowns over the years.

What do you think Mrs. Obama will wear to this year’s Inaugural Ball? Share your predictions in the comments below.

Check out the new ‘do the First Lady debuted in time for the inaguration in the video below. 

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By Amelia Mularz