Category Archives: Former First Ladies

Fashion Flashback: Rosalynn Carter’s recyced inaugural gown

Rosalynn Carter (Jimmy Carter Library)

In my eyes, Rosalynn Carter had great fashion sense. Her wardrobe consisted of posh, classic pieces of her era. However, still today many female politicians never wear the same dress twice, due to the overwhelming amount of criticism Mrs. Carter received for her reuse of a dress at the 1977 inaugural ball.

Rosalynn chose to wear her beautiful blue ball gown to the event. This dress featured chiffon material with gold trimming at the neck, waist, cuffs and bodice of her gown. Atop this dress, she wore a matching gold embroidered, sleeveless coat. However, there was only one problem to this stunning ensemble, Rosalynn Carter had worn the same exact dress, designed by Mary Matise, six years earlier. In 1971, she wore this dress to her husband’s inauguration as governor of Georgia. The news was filled with talk of the first lady’s failed responsibility to the fashion industry and how the American people desire their first lady to display glamour through her wardrobe.

Is this the same today? If Michelle Obama or Laura Bush were to reuse a ball gown, would the media crush them for this decision? Or, rather, would they be praised for taking note of our economic crisis? Perhaps Rosalynn Carter wore this dress because she liked it and did not desire another dress. In my opinion, our current female politicians should do the same. I think that the recycling of a gown would demonstrate that we are all having to cut back our spending during our current economic downfall.

Would you criticize a current politician if they wore the same gown to two separate events?

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Poll: Which political woman has your favorite fashion?

Laura Bush, Jackie Kennedy, Sarah Palin (Google Images)

The political women of the past and present have such different styles; however, I believe each woman’s fashion is, in some way, a representation of her outlook. For example, Michelle Obama, just like President Obama, wants change. This is exactly what her wardrobe has done; it has been a big change from first ladies in the past, recent years. Take a look at Laura Bush, a woman of steadfast, conservative views. These views are portrayed through her conservative, dress suits. Finally, Jacqueline Kennedy, a first lady who wanted to bring art and style from other countries into America. Jackie first started this feat by bringing in her iconic clothing, created by foreign designers. There are several styles to chose from, which woman has your favorite fashion?

When stopped on campus, Annemarie Stanson, a junior at Texas A&M University, said she favors the style of Jackie Kennedy above all other political women, because of she had the ability to keep her look “classy, but still on the cutting edge of fashion.” However, Sophie Nall, another Texas A&M student, is a fan of Laura Bush’s fashion. Sophie likes how Mrs. Bush remained stylish without focusing on her clothing. “Fashion wasn’t a dwelling point for her. She put her focus into her platform,” she stated. Kamryn Hebert likes the fashion of Sarah Palin over all the other political women, because she looks like a “normal woman,” she says. Miss Hebert likes that Sarah isn’t afraid to show the world her true self, even in her running gear (referring to the 2009 issue of Runner’s World which featured Palin on the cover).

History of the White House Christmas theme, started by Jackie Kennedy

JFK and Jackie Kennedy (jfklibrary.org)

Now that the official White House Christmas tree has been delivered, the only question remaining is “What will the 2010 White House Christmas theme be?”. This decision is left up to the first lady, and had been since the JFK Administration.

It was not until 1961 that the tradition of a White house Christmas theme began under Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie, a lover of the arts, started a tradition of having a central theme for the White House Christmas season with her first theme of “The Nutcracker Suite”.

This tree was decorated with ornamental toys, birds, and angels reminiscent of Petr Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” ballet, and placed in the oval Blue Room. The following year, Mrs. Kennedy recycled these delicate pieces, placing them with other ornaments of packages, candy canes and gingerbread cookies on the tree for her second theme, “Children”. All the ornaments were made by disabled or senior citizens craftspeople in the United States. Since this time, the White House has never passed through the Christmas season without a central theme for the house.

Jackie Kennedy dress (AP Photo)

In the holiday photo above, Jacqueline Kennedy is seen wearing one of her iconic shift dresses from the 1960’s. This photograph, taken on December 12, 1962 at the White House Staff Christmas Reception, was when Jackie first debuted this deep pink dress, designed by Hubert de Givenchy. This sleeveless dress has a simple front, a classic look for Mrs. Kennedy, but the back of the dress consists of gathered material twisted together, forming a bow. It is now on display at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

How wonderful it must be to be the First Lady of the United States around Christmas time! She must feel so honored to be in charge of the theme in which all the decorations of the White House are designed around. These decorations and themes are truly a deeper insight to each first lady’s own taste and style, as well as a reflection of their and style!

History of the White House Christmas tree, started by Caroline Harrison

Caroline Harrison (whitehousehistory.org)

Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas season is quickly approaching. Whose tree farm will Mrs. Obama select to supply the White House with the official Christmas tree of the season? In honor of this event, let’s take a look at the great style of the woman who first began the tradition of the White House Christmas tree.

The first indoor White House Christmas tree was the tree of President Benjamin Harrison and First Lady Caroline Harrison in 1889. It stood in the Oval Room, located in the upstairs of the White House. Caroline, an artist, helped decorate this first White House tree, branched adorned with lit candles. Little did Mrs. Harrison know, she was setting the stage for a much-loved holiday tradition, the White House Christmas tree.

Following Caroline, not all first ladies chose indoor trees; however, Lou Henry Hoover’s tree began the yet unbroken custom of an indoor tree, known as the “official” White House Christmas tree. Since that time of 1929, the honor of trimming the White House Christmas tree has belonged to our nation’s hostess, the first lady.

Laura Bush’s take on fashion in autobiography, Spoken from the Heart

Laura Bush (North Valley Magazine)

Early this morning, I finished reading Laura Bush’s new book, Spoken from the Heart. In this autobiography, Laura mainly discusses her experiences while growing up in Midland, Texas and her time spent in the White House. However, in a small portion of the text, she describes her thoughts on fashion.

Mrs. Bush states that it was hard for her to be in the eye of the fashion critics, because she never kept up with the trends. She did not wish to be seen as on the cutting edge of fashion, but rather, Laura wanted others to view her style as elegant. She also said that it was the Bush family’s budget, not the government’s expenses that had to purchase all of her dresses which she wore to the many events she and her husband, former President George W. Bush, attended.

The media always expected her to wear a designer brand, so she tried to recycle her wardrobe as much as possible. Laura even recollects on a time when the recycling of her wardrobe went too far. She once showed up to FOX to be interviewed by Chris Wallace, when she saw a photograph of herself on the wall of the news station in the exact same outfit at her previous interview with Wallace. She describes how she tried to cover this accident by exchanging shirts with her press secretary.

Laura BushI am glad that Laura Bush is honest in her biography and doesn’t try to cover up mistakes that she has made in her past, like so many political leaders seem to do in their books. She is not afraid to speak her mind, as well as have a laugh at herself every now and again. As I previously stated, Laura said she wanted her style to come across as elegant, and I must say that if this was her main goal in her fashion choices, mission accomplished.

What do you think about Laura Bush’s fashion sense?

Lady in Red

In first impressions, a women’s clothing can play a major role in describing her characteristics and how others subconsciously view her. First ladies have become known and partially defined by the garments they wear. Thanks to a long line of chic women of the White House, when one thinks of the first lady, they envision beauty, elegance, grace and charisma, all tied together with a string of knowledge.

Nancy Reagan (Wikipedia)

Throughout the centuries, the first ladies have had various different styles and fashion tastes which embodied each woman’s personality; one may have favored the trendy styles of bargain retailers, while another preferred the elegant fashions of French designers. Although each first lady had different fashion sense, one color can unify them all and almost even capture the essence of who the first lady is and should aspire to be – demure, yet bold in her beliefs and meek, yet self-confident. Only this one color can encompass Jackie Kennedy’s elegance, Nancy Reagan’s poise, the tender heart of Laura Bush, the spunk of Grace Coolidge and the engaging smile of Michelle Obama, the color red.

The vibrant color of red signifies confidence and passion, the two attributes by which first ladies are defined. When speaking on issues at hand, the first lady needs to be passionate; nothing gets done in the world unless there is someone passionate about doing it. In whatever she does, it is vital that the first lady be confident in herself and her husband, the president. Without having faith in the arrangements you are caring out, nothing will go according to plan. After all, if you do not have confidence in your own plans, why expect that anyone else will?

If you want to be seen as elegant and poised, confident and passionate, throw on your red dress.

Take the First Lady fashion quiz and test your knowledge of the First Ladies’ styles. How many can you answer right? Click HERE.

A Glimpse Back at the Flawless Fashion of Nancy Reagan

Dresses of Nancy Reagan

It seems as though when most view the style of the first ladies, all the gossip jumps from Jackie to Michelle. When thoughts turn to Nancy Reagan, we reflect on her meek and demure persona, which captured the hearts of the American people. We love Nancy for her sturdy self-confidence and gentle caring ways, yet her undying flawless style has been casually overlooked throughout the years.

One of the most fashionable traits of Mrs. Reagan is the fact that she is not openly flamboyant with her style; it seems as though she does not even try to be glamorous. I doubt she stares into her closet deciding what to wear or wondering what vibe each outfit will exude. She simply walks into her closet, grabs what she wants to wear, and coincidentally each outfit she chooses is flawless.

Known for wearing her infamous “Reagan Red”, Nancy has a wardrobe which consists of complimentary predominant colors, with a style that is preppy and clean cut. She always portrays a look of being classically chic; her clothing worn during her time as first lady in the 1980’s is still fashionable today. In each of her garments, she looks comfortable, yet still remains perfectly graceful and elegant.

Nancy Reagan is a timeless beauty. 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.

Jackie Kennedy Jewelry

Jackie Kennedy with John Jr. (Jewelry PR Division)

Known for her immaculate style, Jacqueline Kennedy has been admired by women around the world, not only since her first years in the White House, but also now, many years after her death. Jackie’s A-line dresses, clean suits, pillbox hats and elegant jewelry were an overnight success and quickly gave Jackie Kennedy the status of a world-renowned fashion icon. Her chic, sophisticated garments were imminent for setting numerous trends across the globe. Women from the 1960’s all the way to 2009 have wanted to look like Jackie Kennedy, dress like Jackie Kennedy, even desire to embody the essence of Jackie Kennedy.

It is now possible to carry a small bit of Jackie’s style in your daily fashion. The Jackie Kennedy Jewelry Collection made available by Camrose and Kross, provides a wide variety of Jackie’s jewelry replicas, ranging from bracelets to earring, from necklaces to rings. Despite the fact that Jacqueline was known for her expensive, European tastes, The Jackie Kennedy Jewelry Collection makes their jewelry affordable, as well as elegant. You can now dress as Jackie did on her wedding day, when she met with dignitaries, or simply enjoyed a night at home with her family.

Do you like the idea of mimicking Jackie’s style? Are there any other first ladies’ styles you wish would be duplicated?

Michelle Mimics Mamieamie Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower (Frank Scherschel/LIFE)

Michelle Obama has constantly been seen mimicking the styles of former first ladies. From being reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy in her inaugural gown to the likeness of Nancy Reagan in her chic cardigans and preppy casual garments, Mrs. Obama is a follower of the fashion icons before her. However, the one first lady’s style and essence she most embodies is that of Mamie Eisenhower.

Mamie Eisenhower had an outgoing personality and charmed the public while in the White House during the 1950’s and early 60’s. She particularly appealed to the modern housewives, who felt they had something in common with Mamie. She was also one of the first presidents’ wives to bring the First Lady of the United States into the role of a fashion icon, as well as a hostess of the White House and role model for American women. Her well-known “Mamie look” was typified by her one-piece dress with a full circle skirt ending just below the knee. Her dresses usually had material cinched tightly across the waist, just below the bust-line, highlighting her womanly hourglass figure.

Michelle Obama (Getty Images)

Mamie was fashionable and known for many people copying her style, and like Michelle Obama, Mamie would often mix in costume jewelry with her look. Recently, while at the herb garden, Mrs. Obama was seen wearing a 50’s style Chinoiserie print dress, similar to the style of Mamie Eisenhower. Mamie knew her signature dress would accentuate any woman’s natural curves. If you want to create an hourglass silhouette for yourself, here’s the dress for you!

I love this vintage style, and think every woman should own a dress like this!

Every First Lady’s Perfect Fit

You’ve finally found it, the perfect dress! You’ve scurried all over town, tried on innumerable skirts, pants, cardigans, blouses, searching for the perfect outfit for your special occasion, and you’ve finally found it. Now, only one question is left unanswered, what shoes to wear? For, as the factual saying goes “the right shoe completes the outfit”.

Abigail Adams' slippers (Smithsonian)

Search no longer! The simply chic ballet flat is the ideal shoe for any occasion. Whether dressing up for a night on the town or in a sundress for a day at the park, the ballet flat is right for you. From Abigail Adams’ “evening slippers” to Michelle Obama’s “ballet flats”, the first ladies have worn these shoes for many years. They have been worn to ritzy balls in the White House, on campaign trails speaking to the public and out to picnics with the first family.

When choosing your flat, the decision of the color, print and fabric should be based on where you will be wearing these shoes. Choose a solid patent finish for a fancy event, pick a metallic color for the town or be ready for fun in the sun with a bright plaid. When completing your outfit and in doubt, go to the shoe that never makes a mistake, the ballet flat.