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State of the Union: When fashion is as loud — or muted — as the House chambers

The House chamber certainly isn’t a catwalk, but the fashion statements made there during Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address had a little something to say. Maybe not as much as President Obama‘s address did, but they carried some meaning.

Michelle Obama‘s dark-green silk dress — cinched with a wide leather belt, the skirt ringed in wide tonal stripes and topped with a bolero-type jacket with three-quarter-length sleeves — might simply communicate that she was cold in the chamber. In previous years, the first lady has worn arm-baring dresses.

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

It’s reportedly a creation of Azzedine Alaia, a designer the first lady has turned to many times before, making it a safe bet, at least in one respect.

As for the second lady: Jill Biden wore a sleeveless, bright-purple sheath accessorized with a lilac pashmina that partly hid a left-arm cast and sling.

And those bright blazers and suits that many women in the official audience wore? They shouted: “Look at me!” (Saturated colors look great on TV, after all.) There was plenty of traditional red, plus a few canary yellow or orange outfits, including that of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) who sported a safety-orange leather jacket and red tights. Plus, her tights matched her dark hair’s bold, cherry-red highlight. Also in safety- orange: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known to liven up her black robes with bold jewelry, wore a wide, beaded neck piece.

President Barack Obama greets Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Among the men, dark suits were the uniform, save Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who telegraphed casual-professor in a brown corduroy jacket over a wool sweater.

President Obama sported a dark suit and a blue tie that apparently was a part of his last-minute preparations at the White House before heading over to the Capitol, according to a photo Instagrammed by White House photographer Pete Souza. What to make of the choice to go with a cravat that’s the color associated with Democrats? Maybe it just looks nice on camera. But perhaps it marks a shift toward partisanship: Obama has chosen a red (as in GOP) tie for three of his past five State of the Union speeches.



Highlights from the State of the Union

Obama plans a broader message in address

Obama’s rough 2013 prompts a new blueprint

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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Emily Heil · January 28, 2014

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