- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

What will FLOTUS be wearing alongside POTUS during the swearing-in ceremony and at the inaugural balls?

Inquisitive American minds aren’t the only ones that want to know, since fashion, musical and cultural statements made on Inauguration Day are as important as the political statements made once voters selected Donald Trump and his missus, Melania, to replace Barack and Michelle Obama.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee has chosen three official balls to be held at two sites on Inauguration Night: the Liberty Ball and the Freedom Ball at the Washington Convention Center in central Washington, D.C., and the Salute To Our Armed Services Ball at the splendid National Building Museum in downtown.

All of the balls are black tie, of course, with men in waist coats or tuxedos, which helps to explain why for centuries all eyes turn to the gowns of the first ladies to make a fashion statement.

The site that the inaugural commission selected for armed services salute makes a statement as well.

The National Building Museum is the actual site of the former Pensions Building, a facility whose personnel and design reflected its mission, which was to provide benefits for veterans, armed servicemen and their descendents — including the very women and children who they may have left behind.

The Salute To Our Armed Services Ball is invitation only, and invited guests include recipients of the Medal of Honor.

Don’t feel left out if you didn’t get tickets to any of the three official balls, which the Trumps and by nightfall, Vice President Mike Pence and wife Karen plan to attend.

Other galas for the military-oriented include the USO co-hosting the Great American Inaugural Ball at the new MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America and others celebrating at the Vettys Presidential Inauguration Ball and Awards at the tony Hay-Adams Hotel.

Reagan fashion factor

Ever since television escorted us to the inaugural ball of John and Jackie Kennedy in 1961, political newbies conjure up images of Jackie Kennedy in long white silk gloves, diamond s as big as the Ritz and an endless flow of Veuve Cliquot in Baccarat crystal flutes.

The reality? Convention hall floors, plastic cups of boxed wine, a coat check line that rivals today’s security at Dulles and dubious “entertainment” — the perfunctory entertainment of the president and first lady dancing, excluded of course.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan lovingly looked into each others’ eyes as they glanced across the floor at the National Building Museum, he in white tie and tails, and she in a white beaded, one-shoulder, floor-length Galanos gown.

In case you’re wondering about another question — which president attended the most balls on Inaugural night? — the answer is Mr. Obama, with a record 10 in 2008. George W. Bush didn’t too bad, though, with eight.

The Obamas were serenaded by Beyonce at a ball, but “Soul Man” Sam Moore grabbed a rope and pulled them at Thursday’s pre-Trump welcome event on the National Mall.

The Presidential Inaugural Commission is accommodating those who cannot or do not want to attend any of the balls by granting “all television networks the right to freely air the live two-hour show simultaneously in both balls, allowing Americans throughout the country to watch the president’s remarks and first dance with the first lady.”

You’ll be able to see POTUS shake a leg with your own eyes and find out what FLOTUS measures up to Nancy or Jackie.

• Stephanie Mansfield contributed to this report.

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