A dressing down

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been lamenting Washington’s lack of style for years. The era of the pantsuit was particularly painful — I think I was the only Washington woman to expose her calves for the first half of Hillary Clinton’s Senate term.  So, believe me, I’m happily dancing on the grave of the navy-blue suit.

But I have mixed feelings about the new focus on fashion. Today’s Post site has breathless page-one coverage of the Indian state dinner. And, really, I can almost feel Robin Givhan panting on my neck, “Desirée Rogers silently declared the evening a full-wattage fashion moment in a pale peach Comme des Garçons gown!” and Michelle Obama’s “ensemble announced that no-holds-barred, Hollywood-style sexy glamour had arrived in Washington!”

But damned if I can find out what Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh actually discussed in their high-level talks. Not that I think such things belong in state-dinner coverage. I’m a reporter, I get the editorial judgment at play here. I just want to find that information somewhere. And I fear that we’ve chucked that old stand-by, substance, in favor of style.

Maybe it’s that, not so deep down, I’m a wonk and a dork. Maybe it’s that I don’t always admire Michelle Obama’s sartorial choices (I thought the bodice of her gown was cut queerily and had a strangely hard, Dynasty-like effect). Or maybe I’m nostalgic for the days when I got to stand out, be-skirted in a sea of pantsuits.

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