BY JOAN McHALE
"FASHION TRIUMPHS"WASHINGTON -- Consider the plight of the Pennsylvanian sobbing her heart out at the Roger Smith Hotel.
It was 11:30 Thursday night and she had given up trying to hail a taxi to take her to the Inaugural Gala at the Armory. "I spent $2,000 on my dress, and now no one will see it," she moaned.
She wasn't alone. Thousands of Gala ticket-holders were stranded in hotels by one of the worst snowstorms ever to bollux traffic in the nation's capital. Some of the formally gowned wouldn't be snowed by the stinging, biting blizzard. Some got to the Armory in cars that rode the sidewalks. Streets were jammed with cars abandoned by their drivers during the blizzard.
Calling the storm "Nixon's Revenge," they gathered in impromptu sip-and-sup sessions and called out, "Who needs Sinatra? We'll have our own gala." Gowns were visibly damaged while ladies alighted from buses and almost non-existent cabs.
One elegant grand dame in an elegant swish-of-gown quipped as she entered the Armory: "I regret that I have but one gown to give to my country!"
for the New Frontiers looked more like a scene from "Lost Horizons" as snow swirled up to envelop the principals on the platform. As smoke curled in front of fur-wrapped Marian Anderson, scurried activity was evident. She was getting steamed up with "America the Beautiful" when it appeared the lectern was burning. Someone observed that a fitting encore would be, "I Don't Want To Set the World On Fire."
Leotards, leggings and ski outfits were de rigeur along Pennsylvania Avenue when women abandoned hope of appearing chic while parade-watching. Many appeared pounds heavier after adding three and four sweaters under their real and fake furs.
Among those who decided at the last minute to view inaugural festivities in front of the television sets, conversations dealt with money down the drain for gala or parade seats never used. "I knew there'd be some changes made in the new administration," said New York socialite Rene St. John, "but I didn't think they'd come so soon."
ONLY THE WEATHERMAN could write a script which combined so many comical studies with a serious occasion. In one of the first rows of viewers at President Kennedy's swearing-in ceremonies, a man stood attired in a trench coat, hunting boots and a silk hat. Wrapped in a mink coat and an army blanket was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.
AT THE ANGIER BIDDLE DUKE cocktail-buffet, the Edwin Shelleys and Lloyd Seidmans, of New Rochelle, N.Y., told Myrna Loy how they had inadvertently led the Inaugural Parade. "We cut the ceremonies early and headed for our Bentley. When we started down the avenue and looked back, we saw the Kennedy's following us. Everyone was waving and we waved back."
"We almost went to the Gala in a truck," said pretty Mrs. John Costello, whose husband publishes the Lowell (Mass.) Sun. A full-length chinchilla coat kept New York socialite Lenora Corbett warm; her long slim wine velvet gown glittered with silver.
ARMONY BALL-GOERS were still arriving at 1:30 a.m., having abandoned cabs which had inched along for hours. "Won't the dry cleaners clean up!", observed a Chicago visitor whose red peau de soie gown and white satin pumps were "ruined!" Many galoshed in, toting their dancing pumps in hand.
Once inside, the ball was like a mob scene at Madison Square Garden. Bands played on but dancing was minimal. Everyone stared at the balcony where the Kennedys were seated. Jackie Kennedy spent considerable time talking to her mother, Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss, in the second row. Her ecru satin gown with beaded bodice and beige satin stole complemented her daughter's all-white ensemble.
Blonde and tanned Claire Boothe Luce in the adjoining box, wore white satin with silver appliques, and box-pleated skirt. Despite the deep cold, spring hats topped warmest winter coats. Everybody seemed to have a mink coat. Big, shawl-collared coats like Mrs. Lyndon Johnson's looked not only smart but comfortable in the cold. All the Kennedy sisters had on full-length minks.
THE MUFF turned out as another practical and smart fashion. Perhaps its endorsement by Jacqueline Kennedy will give this fur accessory another go-around. It couldn't be beat for comfort when standing for hours in the cold.
Kenneth of Lilly Dache, Mrs. Kennedy's hairdresser, wearily returning to New York on the morning after, reported he was kept at the White House until 10:30 p.m. on the night of the Inaugural Ball. (No wonder they arrived so late.) His versatile hairdo for Jacqueline is sketched on the adjacent page. He was wearing a fur hat made for him by Dache in dark mink, a Russian style cap.
One of the nicest souvenirs of the inauguration, a pocketbook called "Jacqueline Kennedy" by Deane and David Heller, published by Monarch Books, which made its appearance at all the drug stores in Washington, was a sell-out. And everybody reading the Ladies Home Journal, with its first of a four-part series on the First Lady, seems destined to be a sell-out. BY JOAN McHALE