Chic to the (Conservative) Core, Continued…

Regardless of how you feel about their politics (or about them), the operative word for the fashion statements on parade by members of the ‘First Families’ during today’s Inaugural festivities was ‘chic’. It is obvious that ‘chic’ edged out ‘warmth’ judging from the decidedly streamlined, modest, lean, un-bulky coat ensembles, the absence of hats (silly or otherwise expect for the black fur ‘beret’ worn by Condoleeza Rice to compliment her black wool coat), scarves and mufflers, with the exception of former First Lady Barbara Bush who was a vision in red (cumbersome shawl), white (hair, earrings, and gloves) and blue (coat and pants). Hey, she can do or wear whatever she wants and she does! Perhaps most surprising (and refreshing) there was hardly a fur in sight (except for a smattering of tiny fur collars here and there, like the one worn by one of the Cheney daughters). Hmmm, was this an effort to be politically correct? Or a nod to that “proper Republican cloth coat” the late President Richard M. Nixon eluded to years ago?

Leading the pack was First Lady Laura Bush who has never looked better (except perhaps for the Annie Liebovits spread that appeared in January Vogue). She has truly come into her own, and her wise choice of Oscar de la Renta’s winter white cashmere dress with embroidered trim worn with a matching embroidered coat was beyond reproach. Smart, chic, cool, and restrained, perhaps most importantly it looked effortless. I liked the fact that she had no unnecessary or distracting ‘tchotchkes’ (no scarf, no bag, no hat). She accessorized only with elegant white kid gloves, tailored earrings, nude sheer stockings and bone colored pumps. The grooming was flawless as well. Certainly a major improvement from the first Inauguration 4 years ago!

And kudos to the Bush twins Jenna and Barbara, who wisely portrayed different fashion personalities, and who both looked young, chic, cool, and streamlined though not very warm. Jenna’s knee length Derek Lam baby blue wool trench coat was THE perfect choice. It was cinched at the waist with a wide black leather belt, and worn over a slightly longer soft pleated skirt, she looked extremely hip and plugged in, resembling a young fashion editor making the rounds or attending the shows. Her open neckline was left bare – not a turtleneck sweater or scarf in sight. And sister Barbara opted for a knee length beige jewel encrusted wool cardigan coat over matching top and pants. It too was left open and blowing in the wind with no scarf, no hat, no gloves (as far as I could see). Somehow, none of these gals looked a bit cold. I guess when you bask in the glow of that second Presidential Inauguration, you simply need nothing else to keep you warm.

By the way, forgetting all that talk about red states and blue states, blue continues to reign as the color of choice for political wives and women politicians. Lynne Cheney wore a bright blue (almost turquoise) wool collarless coat, Senator Elizabeth Dole also wore a bright blue wool coat with eye shadow to match, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton perked up her black wool coat with a bright blue ribbed cashmere turtleneck sweater under her black wool coat.

And blue is still a favorite shade for the men as well. Senator John Kerry (who was probably thinking more about how today should or could have been ‘his’ day, wore a bright blue tie and matching muffler with his suit, as he sat in the grandstand looking on, and President George W. Bush selected a high spirited bright blue patterned tie to set off his dark top coat and suit, as he was sworn in for his second term.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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