Archive Page 2


the Modern First Ladies- A New Face – Betty Ford

First Lady Elizabeth Ford

Elizabeth Anne (Betty) Bloomer was born in Chicago on April 8, 1918 and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to William Bloomer  a traveling salesman and Hortense Neahr Bloomer who worked in the un-salaried position of President of the Crippled Children Association of Grand Rapids. The petite blue-eyed  beauty began dancing at an early and according to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library age upon graduation from Central High School in 1936, she attended the Bennington School of Dance, in Vermont. She continued her studies  in New York City, becoming a member of her Auxiliary Performance Troupe and performing at Carnegie Hall.

Betty Ford portrait

In 1941 Betty returned to Grand Rapids where she took a job as a fashion coordinator at an exclusive department store and continued her interest in dance, forming her own performance group.  Her passion for dance and helping others  led her to volunteer  with handicapped children, teaching the joy of rhythm and movement in dance.

Betty and Gerald Ford

In 1947, a friend introduced Betty to Gerald R. Ford, Jr., a young lawyer who had served as Navy lieutenant during World War II. According to the Ford Library,by February  1948 the couple was engaged. Eight months later they were married on October 15, 1948, two weeks before Mr. Ford was elected to his first term in Congress. They moved to Washington D.C. where he served as member of the House of Representatives for 25 years.

The Fashionable Betty Ford

While in Congress, the Fords lived in Alexandria, Virginia and had four children.


The Modern First Ladies- The Introcuction

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

Known the world over as probably the  most fashion forward first lady- say that five times lol- in American history, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy is one of my favorite style icons and personal hero. Though she was a  fashion icon, there was much  more to her than being consistently well dressed. The 5’8 doe-eyed Burnett was  was born on July 28, 1929 in Southampton, New York.  The daughter of an affluent Wall Street stockbroker- John Vernou Bouvier III- , and a decorated equestrian-, Janet Lee Bouvier, Jackie , by all accounts, lived a privileged childhood. According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum , she attended Miss Porter’s School for Girls in Connecticut and Vassar College, where she excelled in history, literature, art and French. After studying at the Sorbonne in Paris for her junior year in 1949, she returned to the United States to earn a degree in French literature from George Washington University.

Jacqueline Kennedy working as an Editor at Viking Press

An avid and quite talented writer, with a passion for reading and horse back riding,   Jackie won a prestigious “Vogue” magazine contest in 1950 that led to a year-long position as a trainee at Vogue, spending six months in their New York office and six months in the Paris office. Her first official job came two years later as a photographer for ” The Washington-Times Herald”

Jacqueline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy

The future first lady met her would be husband , John,  the senior senator from Massachusetts  in 1952. The pair married a year later on September 12, 1953 at St. Mary’s Church in Newport. In January 1960 John F. Kennedy announced his campaign for presidency. Though she was pregnant at the time, Jackie remained active in her husbands campaign, answering campaign mail, taping TV commercials, giving interviews and writing “Campaign Wife,” a syndicated column carried across the nation.

Jacqueline Kennedy with JFK and John junior

At tender age of 31 Jackie became the third youngest first lady in U.S. history and , according to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum,  the first to be the mother of an infant since the turn of the century. As first lady, she redecorated the family quarters of the White House and historically restored the public rooms. Her warm personality and  knowledge of different cultures was a great help to her husband.

“It was the extraordinary warm welcome afforded to the French-speaking Mrs. Kennedy during her visit to Paris in May 1961 that prompted President Kennedy’s remark, “I do not think it altogether inappropriate to introduce myself…I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.”.”- JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Jackie Kennedy Collage

On November 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and Jacqueline Kennedy became a widow at age 34. According to the JFK Presidential Library after President Kennedy’s death, she began the work to build the John F. Kennedy Library which would commemorate her husband’s life. She chose then-unknown architect I.M. Pei to design the Library and decided upon a striking location overlooking Boston Harbor.

Jackie at JFK's funeral

She married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis five years later in 1968. After his death she went on to enjoy a successful career in publishing.

Jackie and John Jr.

On May 19, 1994 Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died in her New York City home. She was laid to rest beside President Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, DC.

Jacqueline Kennedy


The Modern First Ladies…Hillary, Laura and Michelle

Hillary Clinton

The role of the First Lady, traditionally, was to support and “take care” of the president.Even for the first wave of who can be considered modern First Ladies when it came to fashion, the role of the First Lady was to be a caring and supportive wife.

” I think it’s an important, legitimate role for a First Lady to look after a President’s health and well being. And if that interferes with other plans, so be it. No first lady need to make apologies for looking out for her husband’s personal welfare…The First Lady is, first of all, a wife.”- Nancy Reagan

“I think the major role of the First Lady is to take care of the President so that he can best serve the people. And not to fail her family, her husband, and children.”- Jackie O

Even before her introduction many speculated about the kind of First Lady she would be.Well that traditional role was certainly  obliterated when the nation was introduced of Hillary Clinton. The Yale-graduate proved to be a new kind of First Lady one that took a more active role in political discussions during he husbands presidency.

First Lady Hillary Clinton and Pres. Clinton

Hillary had a much tougher time finding her own sense of fashion as First Lady. According to Valerie Steele of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology in an Early Show segment of the inaugural balls on CBS, Clinton was criticized very much for her wardrobe  during her husbands presidential terms. She chose a little-known designer for her first gown, Sarah Phillips. Mrs. Clinton wore a violet beaded gown with blue-velvet silk overskirt, as well as an overcoat in violet and gold velvet.

Hillary Clinton wore this violet beaded lace sheath gown with iridescent blue velvet silk mousseline overskirt to the 1993 inaugural balls. The dress was designed by Sarah Phillips and made by Barbara Matera Ltd., a New York theatrical costume maker.

Laura Bush was a modern First Lady that was a throw back to old-time style. Sometimes described a matronly her style is  conservative and  lady like.

First Lady Laura Bush and Pres. Bush

According to the Smithsonian Laura Bush wore a dress designed by fellow Texan Michael Faircloth. Some reports speculated that Faircloth encouraged the normally conservative Mrs. Bush to choose the brilliant color.

Laura Bush wore this ruby-red gown of crystalembroidered Chantilly lace over silk georgette to the 2001 inaugural balls.

The final First Lady is the most modern and arguably the most fashionable since Jackie O, Michelle Obama became First Lady in 2008 and from the time we were introduced to her during her husbands campaign to her formal introduction at the inaugural ball and to this day we have been fascinated with her ability to be blend fashion with political savvy. Michelle seamlessly combines a bit of Jackie O and Hillary.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Pres. Obama

According to the Smithsonian the First Lady wore a one-shouldered white silk chiffon gown embellished with organza flowers with Swarovski crystal centers designed by Jason Wu.

Michelle Obama inaugural gown by Jason Wu was breathtaking

I hope u enjoyed this discussion about a part of our history that both intriguing as it is important. Fashion in politics especially with First Ladies is something that has always been a part of the national discussion and one that will remain a hot topic for fashionistas, historians and everyday citizens.


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…


First Lady Fashion at the the Smithsonian

The First Ladies at the Smithsonian is an exhibit at the National Museum of American History that features 14 gowns and over 90 other objects, including china and jewelry, that have been collected by the Smithsonian over the past hundred years. According to Megan Smith,educator on the First Ladies exhibition, the gowns collected belonged not only to First Ladies but also women who acted as the official White House hostess during presidential administrations. Though most times hostesses were the wives of the president, there have been moments in our history where the president chose a family member or friend to act as his hostess. The oldest gown in the collection belongs to Martha Washington.

Martha Washington wore this silk taffeta gown in the early 1780s.

Though every presidential administration is represented in the exhibit, some of the articles of clothing donated to the Smithsonian by the First Lady or official hostess are not inaugural gowns. The Smithsonian simply requests that the First Lady donates something to represent her in the collection. However, it has become tradition for that item to be the inaugural ball gown.

Frances Cleveland wore this silk evening gown with fur-edged hem and black-satin-and-jet trim during her husband’s second administration.

The Smithsonian creates custom-made mannequins to fit and support the gown that simulates the body type of the First Lady or official hostess. Smith says, the Smithsonian does not alter the gowns.

Julia Grant wore this white silk evening gown in the early 1870s.

” Early donations were informal affairs and often happened after the first lady had left the White House. Modern gown presentations are staged media events publicizing both the Smithsonian and the first lady.”- The Tradition of the Gowns

Helen Taft in her inaugural ball gown, 1909 Courtesy of Library of Congress

First Lady Helen Taft is credited with starting the tradition of the First Lady donating the inaugural Ball gown, when she chose to donate the gown she wore to her husband’s 1909 inauguration. This set the precedent for future First Ladies. However oldest inaugural gown in the collection belonged to Andrew Jackson’s niece, Emily Donelson, who wore it to his 1829 inaugural ball.

Helen Taft 1909 inaugural ball gown is made of white silk chiffon.



The First Ladies Exhibit at the Smithsonian

In preparation for my upcoming website here is a sneak peak of what’s in store… hope you are left intrigued…

Stay tuned!


Obama talks style

The First Couple shares a kiss

There is something absolutely heart warming about a man gushing about his wife’s sense of fashion. It’s music to a fashionista’s ears, President Obama did that and more in a recent interview with Barbara Walters.

The president said he appreciated his wife’s style choices: “I do. I notice what she’s wearing.”

To hear and read  more of what the president had to say about his fashionable wife among other interesting topics click the link below.

“A Barbara Walters Special: A Thanksgiving Visit with President and Mrs. Obama”