Anita Perry 'repurposes' dress for inauguration

January 15, 2011 6:58:51 AM PST
With Texas scaling back its inaugural activities, first lady Anita Perry said Friday that instead of buying a new gown, she will modify a dress she wore to her son's wedding and wear it to the evening celebration.

Perry had sleeves added for warmth to the floor-length gown of golden silk designed by Robert Danes, a San Antonio native now working in New York City.

"I believe in shopping in your closet and using what you have if it will still work," Anita Perry said in a Friday statement. "I love this dress, and worked with Robert to modify it for this most historic celebration. I'm just delighted that he was able to repurpose it for something as special as inauguration night."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was elected to a record third term in November. With the state facing a budget shortfall of at least $15 billion, inaugural planners decided this year to skip the traditional parade and black-tie ball.

Instead, Tuesday's events will include a free swearing-in ceremony that's open to the public and a barbeque that's also free but requires tickets. Tickets for the evening celebration, with cocktail attire, cost $75. Ticket sales and private donations are paying for the events.

Inaugural spokeswoman Sarah Beck called it a "happy coincidence" that the dress Anita Perry enjoyed wearing to her son's wedding last year also will work for the inauguration.

"It's a dress that she loved, and it's a classic, timeless cut," she said.

Perry's evening gown might be a little fancier than cocktail attire, but Danes said that's appropriate for the hostess. He said he's happy to modify dresses to help his clients wear them again.

"There's no reason to let it sit in the closet," he said. "If it means doing a little surgery, why not?"

Colleen Hill, assistant curator of accessories at the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, said it seems like people have been putting more thought recently into buying things of lasting value that can be worn over a longer period of time. She said she likes the idea of a visible person re-wearing a gown.

"I actually think it's a very interesting and kind of honorable thing to do. It's so much less wasteful than obviously it could be," she said.

Not everything Perry will be wearing on Tuesday will be dug out of her closet. She will have a new outfit designed by Danes for the daytime festivities: A dress of blue wool with a lace insert with wool rosettes down the front.