Maryland’s soon-to-be first lady plans to wear a cream caped dress for the historic swearing-in of her husband, Gov.-elect Wes Moore on Wednesday. She’ll also wear two gowns — including a pink creation from designer Christian Siriano — at the inaugural “People’s Ball” later that evening.
Dawn Flythe Moore isn’t letting anybody publicly see her chosen outfits until inauguration day, but she described details to The Baltimore Banner and said all looks worn by the first family will be “classic, timeless” with an emphasis on Maryland designers and stylists.
“It is truly a moment for Maryland designers and style icons,” she said, adding that the family began considering looks a month ago.
Wes Moore will don a suit by Miguel Wilson, a Prince George’s County native and designer, when he takes the oath of office that will make him Maryland’s first Black governor. The two met on the campaign trail when the designer offered to create attire for Moore should he win.
“He kept his promise,” said Dawn Moore. Wilson also designed the classic black tuxedo Wes Moore will wear to the ball.
Aruna Miller, who will become lieutenant governor, is still deciding what she will wear to the ceremony.
As for the ball, she is wearing a “colorful dress” by Indian-born husband and wife designers Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia, who founded their line Sachin & Babi in 2009. Her husband, David, will wear a Vera Wang tuxedo.
“Life is a great big canvass, throw as much color on it as you can,” Miller said.
The dress Dawn Moore will wear to the swearing-in is a monochromatic winter white, fitted, neck-high dress with a matching cashmere belted cape by Baltimore-based designer Jody Davis, whom she has known for 11 years.
“She really knows how to dress a professional woman. Her fabrics are gorgeous. She is truly a gift,” Moore said about Davis, who also designed her daughter Mia’s ceremony dress, a tea-length princess-cut dress in powder blue.
What the first family wears on inauguration will help set the tone for the next four years, said Zoey Washington, vice president of editorial content at Jellyfish, a Baltimore-based global digital marketing firm.
Wardrobe choices — especially by the first lady — are a way to showcase priorities, personality and platform, said Washington. It is also a good way to support the careers of fashion designers, she added.
Dawn Moore’s choices in particular follow the recent trend of first ladies showing independence and openly embracing their role, much as Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have done, Washington said.
“They are not going to be a sidekick,” said Washington, a former fashion editor for publications such as Vogue, Elle, People Style Watch and Essence. “The first lady has more license to be bold and seen, as opposed to being complementary to their husband.”
The future first family turned to stylists Lana Rae and Maria Williams to help them curate their looks.
Moore was instantly struck by Rae’s style when the two met last year at the Baltimore Met Gala at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Wilson was recommended to the first lady by Davis. Rae made sure to use local boutiques, independent designers and female- and minority-owned establishments.
“Just being in this space with this beautiful family at such a pivotal moment is so inspiring for me. It’s an honor to help curate a vision of class and poise for the world to see,” Rae said.
The dress designed by Siriano, “Project Runway” winner and host, is a strapless pink ball gown with a “little bit of a train to it,” and is fashioned after a gown that Moore said she saw on his Instagram account. The dress is not too elaborate, so she can still dance in it.
Siriano, an Annapolis-native, said it was an honor to create the dress.
“I have great pride in where I grew up, and it feels like a full-circle moment to get to dress someone who also shares love and passion for the state,” he said. “Her dress is going to be as fabulous as she is.”
Moore will wear a second dress — a strapless mermaid gown in black jacquard with a pastel garden trim by designer Alex Teih from Francesca’s Atelier boutique in Green Spring Station in Baltimore County. Moore said she has shopped there dating back to a dress she wore five years ago for a Kennedy Krieger Institute fashion show.
The 10,000 people who bought tickets to attend the inaugural ball will also be faced with the age-old question of what to wear when attending a hot social event celebrating a historic moment.
Dawn Moore gave people fashion advice in an Instagram video last week, telling attendees of the People’s Ball to dress “celebratory chic.” She modeled a few qualifying looks — a long, black evening gown, a short playful teal cocktail dress and a black-pants look with a bold-colored jacket. What’s most important, she said, is that people are comfortable.
Marylanders have had gowns custom-made by Davis, Dollhouse Boutique and other popular dress shops, while others chose to buy off the rack. Some heeded Dawn Moore’s advice to wear what makes them feel good.
Donna L. Jacobs, founder and director at Morton Street Dance Center, is wearing a “large fluffy gown.”
“This is just so special to be able to see a first … this is more special than others I’ve attended,” she said.
Fourteen women from Black Girls Vote will attend the inaugural ball. Natasha Murphy, chief of staff for the nonpartisan organization that engages Black women voters, will wear an evening gown that’s comfortable, festive and sequined. Others she knows will wear jumpsuits and cocktail dresses.
“It’s a new dawn — it’s a new day,” Murphy said of the celebratory vibe she hopes to capture.
The Moores have said the People’s Ball is meant to make people feel included with accessible ticket prices and its wear-what-you-want dress code.
“This feels like my inauguration too,” said Shelonda Stokes, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, who will wear a red sequin dress created by Davis.
“I trust the stylist,” Stokes said. “I wanted more conservative, but Jody brought me this beautiful red dress and it’s made for me.” She will use another local stylist for accessories.
Rae said there are a lot of ways Baltimoreans can show their unique style and believes this is the time for “elegance and top-notch style.”
Davis said she is styling several women for the event and said women should pay attention to how they feel in their outfits and think about what styles best accentuate their body types. She wants women to feel authentic in her designs. Her dresses feature vivid hues and bold silhouettes.
“People buy my dresses because they make them feel powerful and feminine,” she said.
Many people will be looking for comfort because they will be at events all day.
“If no one can see your shoes, wear comfortable shoes,” Rae said. She also suggests a chunky heel over a stiletto.
Scott Furman, owner of Tuxedo House, expects to see lots of navy tuxedos as “navy is the new black.” He says there may even be people in suits. Suits are notably less formal than tuxedos, but Furman believes young men may be trending to a more casual look for events like this.
Whatever people wear, the Moores just want people to have fun.
“I’m treating this inauguration like it’s my inauguration and I’m glad to be in the room,” said Stokes.