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Politics plus sparkle

Traditional ball tops inauguration day with flair January 15, 2017 at 9:15 a.m. | Updated January 11, 2017 at 10:20 p.m.
Gov. Eric Greitens proceeds down the stairway of the Capitol with his wife, Sheena, at the Inaugural Ball last week.

After a day filled with a prayer service, ceremony honoring Missouri heroes, formal swearing-in, public receiving line and thank-you reception, new Gov. Eric Greitens, first lady Sheena Greitens, political officeholders from around the state and members of the public gathered in the Capitol on Monday evening for one final inauguration day celebration: the Salute to Service Inaugural Ball.

Guests began filtering into the Capitol well before the official 7 p.m. start time, quickly filling the hallways and offices surrounding the Rotunda. The ball was free and open to the public, and the fashions of the night reflected a range of formality and style.

While there was no red carpet to showcase V.I.P. fashion, legislators, statewide elected officials, judges and the new governor had a chance to make a grand entrance down the sweeping staircase with their families during the Grand March. Classic black tuxedos dominated the men's wardrobe choices, while the women wore gowns largely trending toward classic formal tones of black, navy, champagne and gray. Some chose brighter attire in shades of brilliant scarlet, royal blue and bright white. While sleeve and hem length varied across the board, many gowns featured a touch or more of sparkle - sequins on sleeve cuffs or necklines, glittery designs woven throughout the dress, or even gowns that shimmered gracefully from every inch of their surface.

All eyes were on Sheena Greitens as she and her husband were finally introduced at the conclusion of the march. The new first lady chose a flared, ankle-length crimson dress with an asymmetrical neckline. The shallow v-back and cinched waist, paired with low heels and an elegant updo, created a demure, refined look alongside her husband's black tuxedo. As the couple danced gracefully in time with the "Missouri Waltz," they made a classy, timeless pair.

Among the throngs of guests, fashion ranged from elegant evening gowns to blue jeans; and, as might be expected in Mid-Missouri, more than one or two cowboy hats made an appearance. In keeping with the day's theme, many military members were present in full formal dress, as well as police officers, sheriff's deputies and firefighters from around the state.

Shayne Simmons, chief deputy in the Vernon County sheriff's department, attended the ball with his wife, Joleene Simmons. Joleene, an attorney in Nevada, Missouri, wowed in a sleeveless black A-line dress with a plunging neckline outlined in glittering gold. She purchased the gown from Dillard's in Springfield especially for the inauguration.

One couple came in ensembles that carried special meaning. Departing from the typical tuxedo, Rick Duree, of St. Charles, sported a kilt patterned with the Scottish national tartan. While he does have distant cousins who managed a fort near Edinburgh, Scotland, several centuries ago, the kilt is extra special because he wore it when he married his wife, Christina Duree, three months ago.

Christina Duree wore a form-fitting, floor-length black dress from Windsor in West County Mall in St. Louis. She purchased the gown specifically for the ball, but her strappy black stilettos from Nieman Marcus were a gift from her husband not long after they met.

"When I first met her, she made me so happy, so I bought her those, and then she wore them for our wedding," Rick explained.

The couple came to the ball to support 15th Disrict Sen. Andrew Koenig, a longtime friend.

Outside of the second-floor offices, Rep. Galen Higdon, R-St. Joseph, and his wife, LouAnne Higdon, made a dashing couple. Galen stuck with a trusty black tuxedo, bow tie and cummerbund. Originally purchased because of his involvement as a fourth-degree knight in the Knights of Columbus, he said the tux has seen plenty of use through the years.

Although she elected to wear a two-piece outfit instead of a gown, LouAnne, like many others, chose an outfit with some sparkle. Her daughter helped her pick out the draped, shimmering gray top and flowy black pants from Dillard's in St. Joseph.

About 10 members of the Missouri State University College Republicans made the trip to Jefferson City from Springfield to attend the ball. Emily Wilson, a freshman from Lebanon, Missouri, departed from dark winter tones, instead choosing a bright salmon lace and tulle gown. She originally purchased the dress from Norman's Bridal in Lebanon for her junior prom and decided to reuse it for the ball rather than try to find a new dress.

Fellow Missouri State freshman and Lebanon native Faithe Bennett was classy in black, sporting a gown with a beaded mesh high-necked top flowing into a floor-length tulle skirt. She purchased the dress from Grace's Bridal in Springfield and said she chose it because she likes the elegant and timeless look of a black dress.

Kim York, Cass County circuit clerk, wore a floor-lenth sheath dress covered in a delicate, shiny gold flowered lace pattern purchased from Macy's in Kansas City. She completed her outfit with a thin black lace elbow-length jacket and a black fringe pendant necklance.


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