Fashionable DC: Garden Party at the President’s House!

America’s 28th president made at least one fortuitous decision for the Washington, D.C. social scene–he retired locally, to a stately 1915 Georgian Revival residence in posh Kalorama, now what we think of as Embassy Row. Though Woodrow Wilson himself only lived there for three years (1921-1924) before he passed away, his well-preserved home is nowadays a museum owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s also a go-to place for fun and sophisticated events.

Fresh off a successful Mother’s Day Centennial brunch, the Woodrow Wilson House hosted its 26th annual garden party on May 14, where springtime hats were in full bloom.  (See: photos on flickr) The event was part of an effort to build a community of people who are interested in the neglected era of Woodrow Wilson, said the museum’s Executive Director, Robert Enholm, sporting a seersucker jacket, bow tie and straw hat.


Hundreds of Washingtonians and out-of-towners celebrated the spring event in decorated hats and fascinators, vibrant or pastel frocks, and colorful sports coats and ties. There was even a sought after prize for best hat, awarded to one lady and gentleman, respectively.

In anticipation, some party goers spent some quality time reimagining and adorning their toppers. This strategy produced one winner. Chris Keller festooned his straw fedora in a bouquet of blooms to capture the win for best men’s hat.


Other would-be competitors brought their grand showcase hats.


Dianne McRae, a retired veterinarian who serves on the board of the Woodrow Wilson House, scored her sheer, deep emerald picture hat from the Middleburg Steeplechase and paired it with a mottled silver metallic evening gown from Paris. Her hat choice and overall look were deemed “most creative” by the contest judge, designer Celia Reyer.


Similarly, the very blonde Ioana Lee of Washington, D.C. presented a confectionery pink theme featuring a custom made, undulating picture hat adorned with flowers.

Most party guests opted for simply lovely or traditional looks.


Wilma Grise of Santa Barbara chose a charming fascinator with pea green petals and rhinestones to pair with her exuberant floral print blazer.


Garrett Peck, Grahm Green and Brian Cahill made for a dapper trio in timeless menswear. Note especially the classic fedoras and seasonal spectators.

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But the winning look chosen by the judge was…a handsome antique top hat worn at a jaunty tilt by Tisha Jepson of Chevy Chase, Maryland. It was Jepson’s great-grandfather’s, she explained. No stranger to the top hat, Woodrow Wilson himself could hardly have chosen better!

Hors d’oeuvres for this $100-a-ticket event included delectable corn soufflés, asparagus and Gruyère beignets, pomegranate glazed chicken, bite-size caprese salad, miniature grilled cheese and short rib sandwiches, and a selection of diminutive desserts.

Proceeds from the garden party went towards support of the house’s historic preservation. Event sponsors included: Narmada Winery, Occasions Catering, Maryland’s Own Sloop Betty Vodka, Tuckernuck, Vida Tequila, Washington Life Magazine, and Wolcott Hill Group.

Upcoming events, such as the new, weekly game night, can be found at

Christine Hall

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