NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Socialites, celebrities and female politicians worried about wearing the same designer dress as someone else at presidential galas can turn to a new web site for help.
Andrew Jones confesses that he is the last person you would turn to for fashion advice, but his site, dressregistry.com which was launched last month, allows women to register which gown they will wear to dozens of dinners and balls being held in conjunction with Barack Obama's swearing in as the next U.S. president.
Jones, who has a banking background, said he got the idea for the web site several years ago from his more fashion-conscious wife. He has been biding his time for the right moment to make it a virtual reality.
"There is such a vibe in the country. There is a lot of excitement" around the inauguration, he said of tying the site's launch to the event.
Obama won the 2008 presidential election with a campaign that focused on change after Americans grew weary of eight years of the Bush administration. Obama's wife, Michelle, captivated audiences with her wide smile and fashion sense.
The concept behind the web site is that by registering their dresses, women can try to avoid the embarrassing situation of turning up in look-alike gowns.
"While not the end of the world, it is not the best feeling when someone is wearing the same dress as you," said Jones.
After the inauguration he plans to expand dressregistry.com for other events. The Academy Awards may be next.
"All the big stars wear custom-made couture but not everyone going to the Oscar's has access to custom made," said Jones.
"If it can happen to Laura Bush, it can happen to someone at the Oscar's," he added, referring to a now famous incident in 2006 where Bush found herself dressed the same as two others at a formal event.
Jones said the site will eventually incorporate smaller events too, such as senior proms, weddings, and fund-raising galas.
To date, Jones has largely bankrolled the site's costs but is talking to potential advertisers.
"This was an idea that needs to be out there, commercializing it was secondary," he said, adding he may devote himself to the web site full-time if it continues to gather steam.
"This is far afield from my normal background, but it has had 2 million hits in the last two weeks," said Jones. He also sees opportunities to analyze data on the site for use by the fashion industry.
Reporting by Lilla Zuill; editing by Patricia Reaney