Politically Dressed: What Coats Will the First Family Wear on Inauguration Day?

PHOTO: Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama's second inauguration is on Jan. 21 and when it comes to fashion, all eyes will be on outerwear. Coats are critical at the inauguration, which thanks to the 20th amendment is constitutionally required to be held in late January, which guarantees cold weather in Washington, D.C.


And it's not just about fashion. In 1841, President William Henry Harrison chose to forego a coat at his inauguration, where he gave an almost two-hour address. He developed pneumonia, and died just one month after taking office.

Four years ago, Michelle Obama wore a stunning yellow sheath and coat by Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo while Malia and Sasha Obama wore J. Crew. This year we went to fashion experts at Bloomingdale's for some predictions on what the First Family may wear this year.

Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale's fashion director, thinks we'll see the First Lady in a "statement coat," picking out a winter white one by Michael Kors (click on the Politically Dressed video above to check out all the predictions!). Obama has made little known designers stars, but Solomon believes the First Lady's coat will be someone who is an "iconic American designer" like Kors.

"Michelle Obama will definitely wear an American designer probably for her dress -- an under the radar designer like Isabel Toledo or Jason Wu, that's not exactly a household name," Solomon told Politically Dressed, referring to designers Obama has worn in the past. (Her 2009 inaugural ball gown was by Wu, who was then 26.) "The most important piece she can wear is her coat. The coat must make a statement."

But, what about that cold? No matter how long the president's speech is, the Obamas will definitely be out in the cold for a long period of time, so the coat choice has to fabulous and functional. Solomon suggests layering and wearing a colorful pair of gloves. If the weather is very cold—or the president plans on giving a two-hour speech—his wife may want to consider wearing a goose down coat like the one here.

"Women don't realize this is the first statement you make, the first impression you make is your coat, when you walk into work in the morning, the first thing people see on you is your coat, when you walk into a party that's the first thing they see on you and that is the most important investment you can make," Solomon said, adding all women should make sure their coat fits well, the color is flattering, and the length is correct.

Of course Inauguration Day is really about the president, and Bloomingdale's fashion director for men and children's, Anya Deweerdt, suggested Obama don a coat with some history. For instance, a gray herringbone coat with a velvet collar from British designer Crombie, which has been around since 1805.

"We'd love to see him keep it traditional, but maybe change up the color a bit," DeWeerdt told Politically Dressed. "It's a beautiful herringbone pattern, but still it's a bit riskier for the president…. For men's coats in general and especially for the president, it's all about the tailoring. We want to see something that fits his body nicely so he exudes confidence."

Deweerdt notes that a good coat is an "investment piece," and this Crombie choice can be worn "season after season."

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