Fashion First

Donald Trump and the Great Inauguration Gown Mystery

PEOTUS claimed that ‘all the dress shops are sold out in Washington’ ahead of his inauguration. But there are still plenty of gowns to buy.

01.09.17 11:25 PM ET

President-elect Donald Trump broke an inauguration-related fashion scoop in an interview with the New York Times on Monday: “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington,” Trump declared, due to what he forecasted will be an “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration.”

Trump dropped this shocking news into an interview regarding Meryl Streep’s denunciation of him at last night’s Golden Globes, in which the actress referenced the president-elect’s mockery of a disabled Times reporter in 2015.

Trump denied ever poking fun of the reporter and insisted that, despite “liberal” Hollywood’s disdain for him, “there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars” in the crowd on Inauguration Day.

Then came the news of a dress shortage in our nation’s capital ahead of the ceremony. “It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration,” our omniscient president-elect told the Times, suggesting that The Great Dress Shortage of 2017 was proof that his inauguration will be very well attended indeed.

Political operatives, Washington insiders, and other guests of the ceremony have apparently wiped out DC’s inventory of formal gowns, according to Trump, who offered no intel about shops that carry pants (heaven forfend any women show up wearing pantsuits).

So how hard is it to find a “great” dress for the inauguration? Just how barren are the eveningwear racks at Saks and other high-end womenswear boutiques? Is there a single “dress shop” in Washington that hasn’t been cleaned out ahead of Trump’s inauguration?

These questions baffled sales associates and store managers at various designer boutiques in Tysons Galleria, a high-end shopping mall in Virginia near DC.

“No one has purchased anything here to wear to the inauguration,” an exasperated Versace sales associate told The Daily Beast, adding that they currently carry “one or two” dress styles from the runway and have plenty in stock.

A sales associate at Céline confirmed that no one has purchased any eveningwear pieces for the inauguration, though the boutique at Tysons Galleria carries “more than six dress styles” and had at least twenty in stock as of Monday afternoon. BCBG Maxazria said they have well over 100 dresses in the store’s inventory. The Ralph Lauren store is also well-stocked.

A customer service representative for Rent the Runway in Georgetown said that the popular concept store had “over 100 dresses available in a bunch of different styles, sizes, and colors,” including black tie, floor-length gowns in red, gold, and navy.

Perhaps Trump was referring specifically to “dress shops” where people have been known to purchase gowns for the inauguration, like Rizik’s, which is located several blocks from the White House?

“I don’t know where this quote came from because many arrangements for the inauguration have been in the books for six months now, before people knew the results of the election,” said Paola Domenge, brand strategist for Rizik's.

While Rizik’s is currently undergoing renovations, “historically people come here for their inauguration because we carry high-end, conservative dresses for older congressional wives as well as edgier, more innovative brands for young staffers,” Domenge said, noting that Rizik’s and other retailers will buy more stock of certain gowns in anticipation of the inauguration.

In fact, luxury hotels in the area frequently partner with retailers on pop-up shops in the week leading up to the inauguration, in the event that the hotel's ceremony-attending guests need to do some last-minute shopping.

The 95-room boutique Jefferson Hotel is partnering with Neiman Marcus this year, according to Meredith Goldberg, the hotel’s marketing director. “In the past, some guests have splurged on luxury items for the ceremony and others come when they’ve forgotten a bow-tie or a pair of socks,” Goldberg said. (The Washington Post reported that Neiman Marcus in Friendship Heights currently has “more than a thousand gowns” in stock).

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The Four Seasons in DC confirmed that they've partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue for a pop-up shop that will be open from January 18 through January 22.

“There will be a fur display and other Saks-branded accessories designed for cold weather, and a personal shopper will also be on hand,” a Four Seasons press representative said, noting that a guest in need of a great dress for the inauguration could get one “very easily” through the Saks pop-up. “If we didn’t have what they wanted on site, the personal shopper would have it delivered from the bigger store,” she added.

Trump’s transition team did not respond to a Daily Beast inquiry regarding the president-elect’s statements on DC dress shops, and his claims of a dearth of “great" inauguration dresses in our nation’s capital.

With additional reporting by Amelia Warshaw.