A conflict of colors in Washington

I took a lot away from yesterday’s inauguration… the excitement of those around me as I watched the ceremony from a friend’s home- the glamour, tradition and pageantry of the momentous celebration, history being made before my eyes… and of course some basic color theories at work.

The reactions of my fellow party-goers as they openly chatted about the colors being worn yesterday were all I needed to hear to get me thinking about why people react to colors the way that they do.  How can they dislike a color at first,  slowly warm up to it after awhile and then by the end of the morning be downright protective of it?

Here’s the whole color mystery mapped out and some colorful ideas behind why some pairings made beautiful music together while others simply hit a sour note and in the end were nothing short of a clash of the color titans!

It was clear quite almost immediately that not everyone loved Michelle Obama’s Lemongrass ensemble.  I heard a lot of “Yuck!”, “What color is it anyway?” and “That’s a hard color to wear” roll off the lips of those in the crowd.

I on the other hand was intrigued by her choice.  The color is trendy, fresh, young and gutsy- and best of all completely unexpected.  I think it speaks volumes to her obvious love of fashion.  I liked the retro feel of the dress, the jeweled neckline, the lace and daytime sparkle are all so very ‘now’.

Later once the green gloves and shoes were revealed, I could slowly feel people starting to get more comfortable with the color. The addition of the darker green helped to distinguish the dress and coat as clearly being a yellow with strong green undertones- putting everyone a little more at ease with the color.  Michelle, on the other hand couldn’t have seemed any more confident with her choice.

President Obama had his own interesting color choices going on.  With change in power came a change in tie color.  The signature purple, which had won him so much attention during the campaign (and seemed to spurn a trend with other politicians and newsman alike) was upstaged today by a tie that was ruby red as he officially stepped into power.

For the walk down Pennsylvania Ave. the President added a deep red-violet scarf. It’s blue undertones were just enough to complement rather than clash with Michelle’s outfit.  Funny enough one of his signature purple or blue ties would have really looked great with Michelle’s yellow/green- but since the catch word of the day is CHANGE, his switch to a new color was right on trend as well!

Bill and Hilary illustrate this complementary color scheme- and look how happy they are about it!

There was no arguing from anyone that the Malia and Sasha looked adorable.

Sasha is my new fashion hero, mixing pink, orange a bright red together- love it!

Interestingly enough, when the girls joined their mother on the steps of the Capitol I heard a lot of compliments on how the three looked so beautiful together, suddenly no one was complaining about Michelle’s color choice.

Could it be because the three together were in complete color harmony?

Now this is where it get’s interesting… When the swearing in and speeches are all said and done and the Bidens joined the Obamas to give a friendly wave good bye to George and Laura as they helicoptered off into the sunset.  Suddenly an array of ‘gasps’ go through the crowd over how the two woman’s colors seem to clash with each other.  I heard someone exclaim, “Oh no, someone is going to be in trouble!  Why didn’t they coordinate their colors?… What a fashion faux-pas!”

I was shocked by just how adamant some of the women felt at Jill Biden’s choice of a tomato red coat.  While they may not have immediately fallen in love with the color that our new First Lady was wearing, one thing was sure.  Everyone agreed that it was meant to be ‘her’ day and no one, most especially the Vice President’s wife should be wearing a clashing color or upstaging her.

On a side bar- this reminded me of an episode of a wedding reality show I caught one late night not long ago…. where the mother-in-law insisted on wearing a bright red gown to her son’s wedding much to the chagrin of her future daughter-in-law and bridal party who were all set to wear dark burgundies and black.  There was no convincing her otherwise and I’m sure you can image who was the center of attention in all of those wedding photos, but I digress…

Unfortunately their color choices seem to intensify each other- making these two beautiful women- at least for a moment- rather hard to look at.

Now I realize that power red is super popular in the realm of Washington D.C. and that Mrs. Biden’s choice was rather a traditional one.  And yes this particular shade of red was seen on the runways for Spring and yes she looks quit hip in her sexy boots.  Even with all that being said there are some unspoken rules of protocol that are expected.

Mrs. Biden obviously knew she was going to rock it out in red later that evening in her Reem Acra strapless gown.  Look at those arms- you know she worked out like a fiend to get ready for this night!  (She’s now my second new hero.)

Which to me is even more reason why she should have chosen a more muted color to wear during the day.

But I totally understand there are days when sometimes we get in the mood for one color, and one color only!  Jill, in the great political words of former President Clinton- “I feel your pain”.

In fact, Mrs. Biden, you could have easily gotten away with wearing red had you chosen a hue that complemented the Lemongrass color.  A better choice would have been a dark or mid-tone red-violet ( much like the President’s scarf), instead of this brighter red-orange.  A deep violet would have been a perfectly gorgeous complementary choice and I think with your coloring you would look oh-so pretty in a blue/purple or dusty lavender coat.  Any of these choices would have kept you on trend and looking like a stand out/ knock out- while still being in complete harmony with Michelle.

Thank goodness Laura Bush knew exactly what to wear.  Even if she was craving a brighter color (plenty of time for that now back out on the ranch), she had the social grace to select a color that would not draw attention away from the woman of the hour.  Her soft dove gray next to Michelle’s lemongrass make for a seamless transition of power (as do the color cues from the former and the current president’s ties!).

Fortunately military personal stepped in to keep this clash of power colors far enough apart to protect us all… at least from getting a headache.

What have I learned… well for 1 (one) as much as I like to tell people that color rules no longer matter in fashion I have to remember that sometimes they still do and 2 (two) is how joyous we should all be over the fact that the only color issue facing the Obama’s in Washington D.C. today is that of lesson one (1.)!!!!!!!

Photos from AP and Getty

5 Responses to “A conflict of colors in Washington”

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  1. Kate Smith says:

    I love your take on “Politically Correct Colors”. For anyone that ever thought color theory was boring or didn’t apply to real color dilemmas you have proven them mistaken.

    I’m going with Sasha as my fashion favorite. A perfect red/orange analogous color harmony. With her combination of unexpected colors, red tights right off the runway and bubbly personality I know who the fashionista to watch in this family is.

  2. This is an amazing post! It makes me look back at the choices with a whole new perspective. I would not doubt that there was some amount of analysis that went on behind the scenes of picking the outfits for the new first family…

    When I saw Obama’s scarf, I thought that he might be acknowledging the Harvard color (crimson), just as his brother in law wore a scarf with the Princeton colors during the inauguration.

    I dabble in art, and will admit to spending hours creating color charts and thoroughly enjoying the ‘chemistry’ of color mixing. I loved this post so much that I added you immediately to my blog roll. I look forward to reading more from your blog!

  3. Julie Hoylen says:

    Thanks so much for you kind words…. you may be right about the Harvard connection ( thank goodness his Alma Mater was in the right color family!!!)

    Yes, the chemistry of color makes the world an exciting place to live and work…. and one that forever challenges us that wish to dress and decorate it!

    I love your blog as well ( inspiration is the start of everything great!) and plan to visit it often- thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Yes, the chemistry of color makes the world an exciting place to live and work…. and one that forever challenges us that wish to dress and decorate it!

  5. Wow, I’m well-impressed by this in-depth analysis. The Obama kids look amazing by the way. One day they’ll be the fashion icon their mother is today.

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