Nancy Reagan wore a body-fitting, sparkling white dress by designer James Galanos, dangling diamond earrings and large diamonds on each hand, all very real looking.
She glistened like a jewel in the crowning events of the inaugural festivities.
But for others, it was the moment for toned-down, soigne'e fashion. If the first inaugural was a "glitz blitz," this was the reflecting glow, lots of shine and golden shimmer, slim silhouettes and beautiful black dresses. And it was an evening to do everything possible to keep warm.
"I stayed in a shower 20 extra minutes trying to keep warm," said young New York socialite Cornelia Guest, who arrived in a black-and-yellow gown "by my dearest friend Fabrice." But "it was my mother I started screaming for when the water got cold," she added, referring to C.Z. Guest, who arrived at Roy Cohn and Thomas Bolan's party at the Madison Hotel just behind her. Both were house guests of the Cohns.
Long, lean dresses were de rigueur for the women who were going on to balls. Vera de Rachevsky, a private investor from New York, wore a satin chemise by Odicini in blocks of color including black and navy. Elaine Crispen, an assistant to Nancy Reagan, was wearing a purple-and-black silk blouson gown by Kasper. She took no special precautions against the cold, but her friend, Malcolm Mackillop, vice president of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in San Francisco, admitted to wearing long johns under his tuxedo. "Bright red," Crispen insisted. "Really."
Many of the women chose black dresses. Washingtonian Buffy Cafritz wore a black crushed velvet dress with beading on the sleeve, the same design owned by Nancy Reagan. Jo Carole Lauder's black Valentino gown was covered by a white jacket. And Phyllis Draper, who works at the Peace Corps, was wearing a black velvet sheath brightened with a bit of red silk at the neckline.
She and her husband William Draper, chairman of the Export-Import Bank, arrived with U.S. Ambassador to France Evan Galbraith and his wife Marie-Helene (called Bootsie by her friends), who wore a dark blue gown by Givenchy. The Galbraiths were used to the cold weather, which has been freezing France as well. But they weren't quite prepared for the frozen pipes in the Draper home.
"What do you mean?" teased William Draper. "Bootsie loved brushing her teeth in the bathtub."
At the Washington Hilton, gridlock at the coat-check rooms forced many to tote their coats all evening.
But a few, like Michael O'Harro, the owner of Champions, a Georgetown sports bar, never intended to part with his. O'Harro was wearing a western-style ponyskin jacket over his tuxedo, while his friend, model Carol Filares, was wearing an aqua-dyed fox. They were both designed by Mouratidis of Georgetown.
Some of the best-looking dresses at the Hilton were almost devoid of decoration, and were either pure black or pure white. Many women chose to follow Barbara Bush's discreet use of sequins. Her black gown by Diana Dickinson for Gentillesse -- a favorite designer of Mrs. Bush for several years -- had a lace bodice reembroidered with black and white sequins.
And men weren't shy about showing a little Nancy Reagan red. O'Harro was wearing red suspenders. Other men wore red pocket squares or red roses in their tuxedo lapels. But the overdose of red cummerbunds and red ties looked like a holdover from the senior prom.