Marilyn’s Fashion Choices For Inauguration Day

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice-President at noon on January 20, 2021. The traditional outdoor ceremony is set to go. An inaugural platform is already being built. No other details have been confirmed, but the coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly scale back the usual celebrations.

While a socially distant parade down Pennsylvania Avenue seems feasible, there clearly won’t be any Inaugural Balls this year. I assume that in their place will be a festive virtual celebration similar to the Democratic Convention. Regardless, one thing is sure all eyes will be on First Lady Jill Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. This will be a big day for American Fashion. It’s not too early to think ahead.

Right before the political conventions in August, I wrote an article “The Race to the White House: Dressing Kamala Harris and Dr. Jill Biden” I noted that Dr. Biden and Senator Harris are smart, accomplished, and attractive women with their own well-formed and individual styles. They share many similarities, including an affinity for classic styles, tailoring, pearls, and neutral colors. They look great, but there is always room for improvement, especially at this high profile level.

Jill Biden wearing Brandon Maxwell

In the past few months, we’ve gotten to see much more of these two women. I felt that Dr. Biden, who stands at 5’6” could look much better. The green Brandon Maxwell shirt-dress Dr.Biden wore at the Democratic National Convention did nothing for her.

Jill Biden wearing Oscar de la Renta

The $5690 floral embroidered Oscar de la Renta dress with an asymmetrical hem, which she wore last Saturday night was just too fussy. At the same time, FYI, the dress, which was for sale at the reduced price of $1707 on The Outnet, sold out in hours, so the soon to be First Lady is already a style-setter.

Kamala Harris with Joe Biden

When Kamala Harris gave her first speech as Vice President-elect last Saturday night she wore a white Carolina Herrera pantsuit layered over a cream pussy-bow blouse. It was not only symbolic; it suited her well, although the shoulders were a bit oversized. Kamala, who is 5’2”, remains highly consistent in her sartorial choices, but I think she could benefit from a really great tailor. Very often, the Vice- President elect’s jackets tend to be either too skimpy or too oversized.

For the Inauguration, both women should stay true to their styles but look as chic, elegant, and modern as possible, tailored for day in a statement coat, and appropriately festive for evening. No busy prints and please, no “Mother of the Bride” gowns.

We obviously don’t know who will dress the duo for the big day or what they will wear (it will be customized undoubtedly), but I have my own ideas of what might work, and it’s fun to imagine. I selected two day outfits and two evening outfits for each woman looking at recent and past collections.

Michael Kors Collection Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

For the swearing-in ceremony, I think the Vice President would look marvelous in this Michael Kors Collection gray wool cape and turtleneck worn over matching trousers instead of the long sequined skirt. I would accessorize with a high heeled pump in black alligator. Of course, the cape and long sequined skirt could certainly work for evening.

Michael Kors Collection Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

Another choice is this Michael Kors Collection double-breasted camel coat worn over a black silk blouse and charcoal trousers. Michael cleverly adds slits to the pockets to keep it firmly in place on the shoulder and allow the arms to be free. The coat is authoritative and classic, yet updated.

Gabriela Hearst Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Gabriela Hearst’s double-breasted military coat with gilded buttons and belt would suit Jill Biden very well. For this occasion, I think a dark navy would be more appropriate than black.

Narciso Rodriguez Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear

I adore the silhouette and the bold color of this flame red coat by Narciso Rodriguez. I think it would look great on Dr. Jill Biden worn over the tobacco-colored dress. Jill has great legs, so why not show them off? While red might seem like a controversial choice given its obvious political symbolism, if you recall, Michelle Obama wore a red Jason Wu gown to her second Inaugural Ball in 2013. In fact, the former First Lady wore a lot of red while she was in the White House. I believe in breaking the rules, especially today. Sometimes a color is just a color!!

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

For evening, I can easily imagine Kamala wearing Oscar de la Renta’s ombre sequined jacket and wide-legged trousers worn with a black satin blouse. It is easy yet soignee and echoes what the Vice President wears for day but in a far more glamorous way.

RR331 Fall 2019 Haute Couture
Photo: Dan Lecca

Ralph Rucci’s gray/violet double-faced Duchess satin gown is another excellent option for the Vice President, although it would have to be modified to better suit her frame. I love the color, the luxurious fabrication, and the flattering neckline. It’s very dressed up yet still tailored and stately.

Brandon Maxwell Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Brandon Maxwell’s pale celadon wool maxi dress is an ideal evening option for Dr. Jill Biden. It has the informal ease of a shirt dress yet is very dramatic with its sweeping hem. The pale neutral shade would suit the First Lady very well. To make it more festive, I would switch the button and belt buckle to diamante rather than metal ones.

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: Stas Komarovski

With its feather-trimmed train, this pale pink long sheath from Monique Lhuillier would be a good option if the First Lady wants to get really dolled up. I love that it’s feminine, celebratory, yet streamlined.

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.

  1. Very well done, love your choices…. The pink sheath would fit either lady quite well. You choose lovely coats with flair.. My grand-daughter and I sketched dresses we thought Michelle would wear for her first special day. Hannah voted this year for the first time!!! We shall have fun and sketch for jill and Kamala. What fun to see your choices. Happy Fashion, Annetta

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