The evolution of the mordern First Ladies ….Jackie O,Betty Ford and Nancy


First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Pres. John F. Kennedy

Every four years the American public gets elect and celebrate the election of the president. It is an exciting and inspirational time for the country. For Fashion junkies anticipation of  the First Lady’s inaugural gown is almost too much to contain. What the First Lady wears to the inaugural ball is  significant because, in a sense, it is her introduction to the nation and the world.

Jacqueline Kennedy's Inaugural Gown 1961 off-white sleeveless gown in chiffon

Jackie O is known as the First Lady who became a fashion icon. A style that can be described as elegant, simple and all American, Kennedy is the iconic modern First Lady. According to Valerie Steele of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology in a CBS segment on First Lady Inaugural Gowns,  her choice of fashion, seen as daring at the time, was somewhat criticized throughout the campaign.

” What you see with the inaugural gown is the triumph of her own personal style,” says Steele, “To use fashion as a way of representing her husband’s presidency – to look modern, elegant, simple and American. This is a very, very classic, a perfect kind of ceremonial dress for the president’s wife.”- CBS

According the Smithsonian, Ethel Frankau of Bergdorf Custom Salon designed and made the dress based on sketches and suggestions from Mrs. Kennedy. It was worn with a matching cape.

First Lady Betty Ford and Pres. Gerald Ford

Described as “outspoken” and “candid” by historians, Betty was thrust into the role of First Lady on August 8, 1974 after the resignation of Pres. Nixon as a result of  the Watergate scandal, and her husband became the 38th president. According to her Biography on The Gerald Ford Museum website after studying dance and performing with an Auxiliary Performance Troupe in New York City at Carnegie Hall, Ford return to her home town of Grand Rapids Mich. where she became fashion coordinator for Herpolsheimer’s, a locally prominent department store. Her expertise in fashion helped her ease into a the role of a modern-day fashion conscious First Lady.

Betty Ford wore this pale-green sequined chiffon gown embroidered in a chrysanthemum pattern to state dinners at the White House for the shah of Iran in 1975

“Since there were no formal inaugural celebrations when Gerald Ford became president, Mrs. Ford chose this dress, in her favorite shade of green, to represent her in the Smithsonian’s collection.”-Betty Ford: An Unusual Introduction- The Smithsonian

First Lady Nancy Reagan and Pres. Ronald Regan

Portrayed as classically chic and  known for wearing her infamous ” Regan Red,” Nancy Reagan is a style icon all her own. Though not described as  particularly flamboyant or out spoken, by most accounts her style was and is still seen as timeless and elegant.

“She is not fashionable simply by her chic choices in clothing, but by her thoughts and outlook on style which coincide with her impeccable taste. For example, she was criticized for some of her clothing being so expensive, but she was so committed to her style that she wore the clothes regardless of their comments and later donated them to charity. Now, that is true style, confidence and fashion combined.”- Kristen Wilingham- First Lady Examiner

Nancy Reagan wore this white beaded one-shouldered sheath gown of lace over silk satin to the 1981 inaugural ball.

According to the Smithsonian Nancy’s  was designed by James Galanos, who also designed the one-shouldered white gown Mrs. Reagan wore to her husband’s first gubernatorial inaugural ball. In interviews, Galanos said that he wanted to make Mrs. Reagan look glamorous, “… elegant and in keeping with the new formality.”

Eager to see more fashion choices of the modern First Ladies…stay tuned!!! Hilary, Laura and Michelle will either blow you away for leave you very disappointed…after all not every Fist Lady can be a Fashion Icon…


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