A fashion innocent abroad
Armed with spreadsheet, black velvet dress, staffer heads for Stockholm

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

06 December 00 | Grace Katagiri may know a fair amount about microeconomics, thanks to her 29-year association with Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel McFadden. But in matters of fashion, she considers herself an innocent.

So when McFadden invited the econometrics lab resource manager to join his family for this week's award festivities in Stockholm - the Dec. 10 Nobel award ceremony, banquet and ball, a Santa Lucia banquet and ball two nights later, and numerous receptions and luncheons - her wardrobe dilemmas loomed large.

Not since the senior prom had Katagiri shopped for a ball gown, not to mention the evening bag, accessories, cocktail dresses, and pants suit needed for a lineup of elegant events. The long dress coat suitable for a Scandinavian winter was yet another challenge.

"Other women go through life knowing the importance of little brooches, handbags, the right pair of shoes, and scarves," says Katagiri. "It's just not something I've had to deal with. This is like planning a major campaign: what are my objectives, how am I going to accomplish them?"

Her primary goal, she says, is to dress appropriately for each occasion. "When you live in Berkeley, anything goes; you please yourself. My understanding is that in Europe, pleasing myself would mean I would stick out like a sore thumb."

Enter Mom and sister Iao (a former research assistant to McFadden and current deputy vice president of research development at RAND Corp.), who together have racked up years of fashion experience in high-powered corporate settings.

With their assistance on several shopping forays, Katagiri assembled her Stockholm wardrobe. Its centerpiece: a plain, floor-length velvet sheath and matching jacket with a "thin row of rhinestones" down the front. Iao's "fabulous, floor-length wool cape" will keep out the winter wind. She plans to finesse the rest with carefully chosen accessories - among them the first evening bag of her life, adorned with "gunmetal gray bugle beads, like Cher used to wear."

The only remaining challenge: remembering what to wear when. For that, Katagiri's campus administrative experience will come in handy.

"We even have a spreadsheet," she says, "with the day, the time, and what exactly I'm going to wear, right on down to the shoes and the pin on my lapel - so when I get there, I won't have to think."


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