Washington women's fairly frazzled lives make a fun challenge for fashion, says longtime designer Kay Unger. Unger, in town Monday for a FemCity DC party feting the Tigerlily Foundation, talked about her years of experience dressing people in D.C. "Everyone in Washington walks in on a Saturday and goes, 'I have to wear this tonight,'... so there's nothing more fun than dressing someone at the last moment,' " Unger said. "I could put them in something that was a little special, maybe different, than what they would normally do and because they didn't have time to think about it. They would just buy it, wear it and love it -- and I would get letters back."
Unger seems to have a knack for dressing second ladies. Her designs have appeared on Tipper Gore and Jill Biden, who sported a Kay Unger suit at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Unger didn't know her clothes had been chosen until Biden walked on stage. "Jill goes shopping like a normal person, she doesn't ask anything of anyone, she just goes and picks out what she wants," Unger explained.
The designer sold her company this summer so she can devote her time to philanthropy, but still has her eye on Michelle Obama and would like to revisit Hillary Clinton's wardrobe. "I would love to make her just some more pantsuits that are maybe a little more fun," she said. "Obviously she has to dress a certain way to make the people she's negotiating with feel comfortable, but I think women who step out a little, people remember them and they respect them."
And just because she's a Democrat, that doesn't mean Unger doesn't clothe Republicans. "Oh yes, definitely, are you kidding? If you sell Neiman Marcus you are dressing Republicans," Unger laughed. She even prescribed some advice for Ann Romney. "I would loosen her up a little," Unger said. "I think she dresses the way she thinks she should look, which is not wrong ... but I think she could take a few more chances and develop her own personal style ... but, you know, maybe she'll step into that."