According to Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan, a state dinner is neither the time nor the place to make a fashion statement. Dresses should be formal and not flashy...so who, over the years, has demonstrated the worst White House style faux pas? Perhaps Sophia Loren:
At a state dinner in 1996, low decolletage wasn't merely sexy or daring; it was a political trap for a president known to have a roving eye. Clinton was hosting a state dinner for Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro. The voluptuous Italian actress Sophia Loren was a guest and she arrived with her magnificent cleavage framed in an ivory evening gown by Giorgio Armani. As she made her way through the receiving line, media observers paid close attention to Clinton's gaze, waiting to see whether it would waver -- even the slightest -- from where it belonged to where it was most emphatically being drawn. Reports indicated that Clinton maintained steely eye contact. But no guest should really put the leader of the free world to such a test of willpower.
Givhan also mentioned Martha Stewart's pink, silk Ralph Lauren capri-pantsuit in 1999 as a state dinner don't and designer Pauline Trigere's leopard-print dress as a bad choice, even in 1987.