The XX Factor

D.C. Dress Stores Refuse to Admit They’re Sold Out of Inauguration Gowns, Contradicting Trump

Donald Trump with his wife, Melania Trump, on election night in New York. Trump says that all the dress shops in Washington are sold out for the inauguration.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump wants you to know that the inaugural balls held in his honor on Jan. 20 are going to be big. Huge. Probably the best ever. “We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” he recently told Politico. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”

If we know anything about Trump’s relationship with the truth, it’s that he only says things out loud after he has thoroughly researched them and confirmed their veracity. That means that D.C. is currently in the midst of an unprecedented shortage of evening gowns. I decided to call a few D.C.-area dress shops and department stores to find out how they were handling the sellout—and what I found was heart-breaking: an industry in complete denial about the fact that demand for dresses had outstripped supply.

The woman who answered the phone at Prada in McLean, Virginia, made a semantic argument when I asked her about the dress shortage. “We’re not sold out; I just don’t have any in the store,” she said. “I have to have them transferred over.” A likely story! She offered to email me a lookbook of dresses that were available to be sent into the store, but I never received it. Maybe she took my email address down wrong—or maybe this “transfer” business was just a cover up for the fact that Prada had no gowns whatsoever. Maybe.

Next I tried BHLDN, Anthropologie’s bridal and formal wear boutique, in Georgetown, which similarly refuted Trump’s comment. “No, we’re not sold out,” said the retail associate who answered the phone. “But we don’t carry everything that’s on the website; it’s a store.” She promised that BHLDN could call in any gown from the website that a client wanted—a clear, desperate attempt to stall for time.

As it happened, every store I called told the same likely story when I asked if it had any dresses available. Claire Dratch in Bethesda: “Yes, we have evening gowns.” Lord and Taylor in Chevy Chase: “Yeah, we do.” Betsy Fisher in Dupont Circle: “Absolutely … definitely not sold out. In fact we’re having a trunk show starting tomorrow for dresses.” With every call, it became increasingly clear that I was dealing with a conspiracy: These dress-shop retail associates were apparently part of a plot to hide the absolute lack of dresses in the Washington metro area. What’s more, they insisted that they not only had formal dresses available, but a wide selection of great dresses in lots of sizes. And they’d gotten some of the Crooked Media—namely, the Washington Post—to corroborate their tale.

It’s sad that some people are so hell-bent on contradicting Trump that they’ll deny reality. But the truth will be clear for all to see come Inauguration Day, when all the women who didn’t buy their dresses early will be forced to show up to the balls wearing slacks, shorts, or—perhaps our pussy-grabbing president-elect’s preference—nothing at all underneath their coats.