Laura Bush's gown - an ice blue and silver vision by Oscar de la Renta - took the first lady from her usual prim and proper appearance to one that was shimmery and glamorous.
The first twins' gowns, both Badgley Mischka creations, were movie-star extravagant and as snug as security in the nation's capital, but much sexier.
It was an extremely tasteful and stylish show for the throngs celebrating George W. Bush's re-election.
As the Bushes dashed from swearing-in ceremony to parade to a string of formal galas during yesterday's inauguration festivities, freedom and fashion both took a stand.
President Bush pledged to uphold the Constitution, and his wife and daughters seemed to have made a pledge of their own: to remain picture-perfect during a very long day.
"It's a very conservative administration with a very progressive fashion sense," said Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor-at-large for Glamour magazine as she watched the balls on TV.
The evening started at the Constitution Ball, where the president swept up his wife and briefly danced to "I Could Have Danced All Night."
With or without her dance partner, Laura Bush sparkled in her fitted, metallic gown studded with crystals and other shiny baubles.
"This is the season for metallics, so she's right on target," Schwartz said. "She gets the Oscar for choosing Oscar."
Earlier in the day, the president's swearing-in for his second term as the nation's 43rd president may have been a frigid affair, but it began with "perfection," in the form of Laura Bush, Schwartz said.
Clad in a winter-white cashmere day suit and embroidered coat also by de la Renta, the first lady "has never had a better fashion moment in her life," Schwartz said. Her hair, makeup, outfit, jewelry, shoes were "flawless."
Even Bush's button earrings "are very chic now," Schwartz said. "This is how you want your first lady to look."
Jackie Kennedy's inaugural dazzle on a chilly day in 1961 may be nonpareil. But when Laura Bush appeared on television en route to her husband's swearing-in, "It was reminiscent of the first moment when you saw Jackie Kennedy walking out," Schwartz said.
In her cashmere trench coat, tapered slacks and satin-trim silk blouse, Barbara Bush, 23, looked "very cool but proper at the same time," the Glamour fashion authority said.
Jenna Bush, wearing a camel ensemble by New York designer Derek Lam, looked elegant, too, Schwartz said.
"Obviously, they're very different," she said of the sisters. "So is their fashion, but it works together."
For Brian Cook, a New York designer of sportswear worn by Jennifer Aniston and Lindsay Lohan, among others, the Bush family's finest sartorial moment came during the day.
"The outfits were very, very coordinated into a beautiful photo op," Cook said.
But it was tough to be photo op-ready all day long. While watching the parade, Jenna Bush was spotted applying lip gloss (which earned a look from her mother) and yawning.
A day earlier, a ring she wore on her left hand released a flurry of engagement rumors, promptly shot down by a White House spokesman.
Among the ceremony's audience, solids - be they red, white, blue or fuchsia - triumphed over plaids, checks and stripes. Head warmers ranged from cowboy hats to fleece to fur earmuffs. True to recent tradition, the president went hatless.
The Bush and Cheney families and their VIP guests sat among and above a sea of red, white and blue, worn perhaps for political as well as patriotic reasons.
Losing presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry was wrapped in a deep blue scarf, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom Schwartz would have liked to have seen make "more of a fashion statement," took cover in a ribbed blue turtleneck.
Then again, the president's mother, Barbara Bush, wore regal blue, and Vice President Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne, chose a bright, pastel blue coat over a blue suit.
The Cheneys' daughters, Mary and Liz, complemented their mother in light blue and tan coats.
The three Cheney women wore identical gray gloves.
During the Inaugural Parade, the first family and dignitaries remained toasty, but not invisible in the booth from where they viewed the parade. Note to young Bush friends and family in attendance: Don't chew gum on national television.