Do try this at home – 2 lessons in style from the Inauguration.

Excuse my prose for I have been up since 3am watching the Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. As I watched bleary eyed poised on my couch with pen and paper in hand, it didn’t take long to write observations on how fashion captured this moment in time. An historic one, not only for the welcoming in of a new administration and renewed hope, but a country divided in the grips of a global pandemic.

From the mandatory face masks on all in attendance to the enormous gold dove emblazoned on Lady Gaga’s chest, there were many examples of how fashion and style were symbolic representations of the time.

It was pleasing to see peace Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama choose homegrown emerging designers for their Inauguration outfits, their ability to influence and propel careers is something dreams are made of. This in stark contrast to former First Lady Melania Trump’s penchant for luxury European designers and Birkin bags.

As I reflect on the ceremony, there were two style lessons perfectly demonstrated at the event worthy of highlighting that you can incorporate into your wardrobe in 2021.

Lesson 1: Colour blocking | Monochrome | Tonal dressing

I simply love tonal, monochromatic dressing. A styling technique I share with my clients for the ease in which it adds instant elegance and emanates confidence. Tonal dressing is wearing head to toe of one colour in slightly different hues. Jill Biden, Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris all opted for this look and executed it beautifully.

The keys to mastering tonal dressing are:

  • Mix different textures and fabrics. Keep the look visually interesting by mixing different textures, patterns, fabrics, and finishes within your outfit. Michelle Obama mixed sleek and soft leather in her accessories with heavier wool in her 3-piece suit by Sergio Hudson.
Image Source: Getty / Robb Carr
  • Play with shades of the same colour from light to dark. J-Lo’s Chanel ensemble incorporated different shades of white and ecru in fabrics and accessories of pearls and crystals.
Image Source: Reuters
  • Keep the shoe neutral. It can be difficult to find a shoe the right colour to match a tonal outfit. When in doubt, choose a neutral colour shoe. This will not only lengthen the leg but keep the outfit as the focus. Jill Biden added a nude colour pump to her matching blue coat and dress by Markarian.
Image Source: Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Lesson 2: Colour adds meaning

Colour in an outfit can influence your mood and how you are perceived by others. Colours have historical meaning and it was no coincidence that certain hues were chosen for the swearing in of the 46th President.

Kamala Harris confidently walked onto the Inauguration stage wearing purple, a colour historically associated with nobility and favoured by the suffragettes before they were associated with white.

Recently purple has become a metaphor for bipartisanship because of its mix of blue and red. Purple was also the chosen colour of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Image Source: Joe Raedle Getty Images

Jill Biden’s ocean blue dress and coat by Markarian was chosen to set the tone of her new status as FLOTUS. “This shade of blue signifies trust, confidence and stability”, stated a Markarian spokesperson.

Amanda Gorman, 22-year-old Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest poet to deliver an inaugural address wore a canary-yellow coat by Miuccia Prada.  Yellow, one of Pantone’s colours of 2021  symbolises energy and positivity a sentiment reflected in the words of Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb”.

Images Source: Getty Images

The keys to incorporating colour into your wardrobe:

  • When wearing a colour for an important occasion, research the meaning of the colour to see if it is appropriate for the event. For example, blue is a great to colour for job interviews as it represents honesty and integrity.
  • Ensure the colour you wear suits your complexion, hair colour and skin tone. If you’re unsure what colours suit you, hold different shades of the one colour under your chin. If you see grey appearing under the eyes and around the mouth, the shade doesn’t suit you. You want the colour to make you look well and healthy.
  • Just because a colour doesn’t suit your complexion doesn’t mean you can’t wear it. Wearing a colour you love away from the face in pants, a skirt or accessories will enable you to enjoy the shade while looking great.

Incorporating these two style lessons of colour and tonal dressing in your wardrobe will enable you to create new outfits with the pieces you already own and elevate your style.

If you have styling questions or need help elevating your look in 2021, send me an email at

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