Inauguration Sewing

President Kennedy with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at his inauguration in January, 1961
President Kennedy with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at his inauguration in January, 1961. Image: Leonard McCombe / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty.

President Joe Biden will reportedly be wearing Ralph Lauren to his inauguration. The fashion choices of the ceremony’s female attendees are shrouded in secrecy, but you can be sure the pattern companies are paying close attention.

Sixty years ago, Jacqueline Kennedy made Inauguration-Day history in Oleg Cassini and a Halston pillbox hat. Cassini may not have licensed any coat patterns, but dressmakers could soon make their own cloth hats with Vogue’s Halston patterns.

Vogue 6606 by Halston of Bergdorf Goodman (1965) Image: Etsy.

In 1965, Second Lady Muriel Humphrey Brown wore Balmain, made from a Vogue pattern. “For the inauguration itself, Mrs. Humphrey made her own dress of pale blue angora and wool broadcloth from a Vogue Paris original pattern by Balmain… The dress is semi-fitted, with simulated slot seaming along the bodice and down the front of the skirt, giving an empire line.” (“Mrs. Humphrey Sews Dress: Inauguration Gowns Will Be Red, White, Blue,” AP / Globe and Mail, January 18, 1965.) Her dress was probably this Vogue Paris Original:

Jean Shrimpton in a Balmain dress - Vogue Paris Original pattern no. 1327
Vogue 1327 by Balmain (1964) Model: Jean Shrimpton. Image: Etsy.

In 2009, Michelle Obama wore custom Isabel Toledo. A Butterick pattern soon followed:

Butterick 5396 after Isabel Toledo (2009) Image: Etsy.

In 2017, the publication of this Ralph Lauren-inspired inauguration ensemble caused some controversy:

V9266 (V1736) after Ralph Lauren on the cover of the Vogue Patterns Fall 2017 lookbook
V9266 after Ralph Lauren on the cover of the Vogue Patterns Fall 2017 lookbook. Model: Caroline Mathis. Image: Issuu.

Any guesses which designer labels Dr. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris might wear on Inauguration Day?

Update: Dr. Jill Biden chose NYC label Markarian, while Kamala Harris opted for Christopher John Rogers.

Douglas Emhoff, Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, and Joseph R. Biden at U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony
Douglas Emhoff, Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, and Joseph R. Biden at U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony. Image: Vogue / Getty Images.

3 thoughts on “Inauguration Sewing

  1. I listened to a Suzy Menkes podcast interview featuring Wes Gordon for Carolina Herrera.
    He designed the white pantsuit that VP Kamala Harris wore when the election was called Nov. 8. Will be interesting.

  2. Thank you. I had to look up Muriel Humphrey Brown. She was a remarkable woman for her time, and her contributions can be appreciated by us still today.

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