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Dancing Through History With First Ladies' Gowns07:19

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 First lady Michelle Obama's inaugural gown. (Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History)closemore
First lady Michelle Obama's inaugural gown. (Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History)

Every four years in January, Washington, D.C., plays host to the country's biggest "prom." Inaugural balls bring out happy winners, administration bigwigs and a gown — on the first lady — that will become a part of history.

An exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displays some of those gowns. NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg took her dance card to the show.

Grover Cleveland's wife, Frances, was a fashion icon during the late 1800s and was considered the Jackie Kennedy of her day. Her inaugural gown was more of a two-piece ensemble — an elegant floral chine skirt and a peach velvet bodice crafted by House of Doucet of Paris.  (Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History)
Grover Cleveland's wife, Frances, was a fashion icon during the late 1800s and was considered the Jackie Kennedy of her day. Her inaugural gown was more of a two-piece ensemble — an elegant floral chine skirt and a peach velvet bodice crafted by House of Doucet of Paris. (Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History)

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