First Ladies of the United States have long been under the scrutiny of the rest of the nation. Take a look back at First Lady fashion over the years including the beautiful gowns and the designers behind them. Also, read about the controversies that have arisen over the years — you might be surprised by some of them.
Helen Herron Taft met her husband Howard Taft while bobsledding at the young age of eighteen. They married several years after meeting and courting in 1860. She preferred to be called Nellie instead of Helen since childhood. She stood by her husband through each step of his political career including state judge, Solicitor General, and federal judge.
She was the first First Lady to ride in her husband’s inauguration parade. And the night of the ball she certainly brought the fashion of the time. She wore a gorgeous white chiffon gown embroidered with gold. Only two months after the inauguration she had a stroke. She was determined to complete her role as a hostess in the White House, and her sisters assisted her until she was able to do so on her own.
Edith Bolling Wilson
Edith Wilson did not meet and marry her husband President Woodrow Wilson until he was already in office so she never got the chance to have an inauguration dress. Edith had some tragedy in her life and had been left a widow at a relatively young age by her first husband. She had also given birth to a son who died on a few days after birth. Unfortunately, she was no longer able to have any children.
She met Woodrow in 1915, shortly after he also became a widower. Rumors flew around the nation about their relationship and whether it had started previously to the death of the first Mrs. Wilson, and Woodrow said that Edith could leave the engagement if she did not feel comfortable, however she famously said that she would stand by her fiancé, the President, not for duty, pity or honor, but for love. How romantic!
Florence Kling Harding
Florence married Warren Harding, who at the time was the owner of a newspaper called the Marion Star. She was known to be extremely involved and even considered to be “the brains of the business”. Her brilliance carried over into his political career and after he became President she was known to be extremely outspoken about political issues, sometimes even moreso than the President himself. She was referred to as “The Duchess” for her knack of throwing extremely elegant parties.
She was also very into the fashions of the time and wore the new fashion of silk neckbands which she used to hide her wrinkles. She also engaged in other “modern” activities like taking flights in planes, showing movies after dinner, and she allegedly even served guests alcohol during Prohibition. She was the first ever First Lady to gain the right to vote, she also owned a movie camera, a radio and was the first to ever invite celebrity film stars to the White House. At the inauguration, she wore a gown by Harry Collins. It featured pearlized sequins on tulle and rhinestone-trimmed blue velvet ribbon.
Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge
Grace Goodhue met her husband Calvin Coolidge who was a smooth-talking attorney, and soon was engaged to marry him. Her mother objected, and allegedly Calvin and his mother-in-law never got over the rift, but Grace and Calvin remained married for the rest of their lives. Calvin preferred things to be stately and unaffected and thus all White House engagements were this way at the time.
During Calvin’s second inauguration, there was no massive public display and instead he opted only for privet soirees. So for Grace there was no gorgeous ballgown to speak of but on inauguration day she certainly was decked out in the style of the time. Because it was the 1920’s she wore a flapper-style evening dress. On inauguration day Grace Coolidge wore a flapper-style evening dress in gold lamé adorned with velvet-trimmed black-and-gold metallic lace.
Lou Henry Hoover
Lou Henry Hoover was the wife of Herbert Hoover. The two met at Stanford University where she was the only woman Geology major at the time. Lou Hoover was perceived by women around the United States as one of the “best dressed women”. She was the first ever First Lady to appear in Vogue magazine.
She also made it a point to wear clothes that wear American made and not shipped from overseas as many fashionistas did at the time. She also used her fashion to promote the cotton textile industry and almost always wore cotton based dresses. Her inaugural dress was a stately but simple silk crepe evening gown adorned with metallic thread brocade.
Eleanor is probably one of the most famous first ladies to this day. She was also among the first to become extremely vocal about her views and feminism and other civil rights causes while her husband President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office. As her interests clearly laid elsewhere, Eleanor was not particularly fond of or interested in fashion.
However, she made quite the stir with a gorgeous slate-blue crepe grown, with the color later being named for her: “Eleanor blue”. It was designed by Sally Milgrim and had a gold leaf and flower pattern. In 1933, it was quite similar to what the movie stars of the time would choose to wear.
Elizabeth Wallace Truman
Elizabeth Truman was married to President Harry Truman. The two had known each other since they attended school together as children. This First Lady was completely disinterested in politics and the political scene.
Although she was reluctant about the role, she was the dutiful wife and hostess. When her husband first took office, it was after the death of FDR and the country was in the midst of a world war so it was exactly a carefree gleeful time. Allegedly, her gown for the inaugural ball was designed by a woman named Madame Pola. She chose a dark gown with white accenting and adorned it with a fur cape (far left in photo).
Mamie Doud Eisenhower
Mamie Eisenhower met her future husband and president Dwight D. Eisenhower in San Antonio, Texas. Dwight was a military man and the two traveled around quite a bit before Dwight ran for president and won in a landslide victory. Mamie, unlike other first ladies before her, loved fashion!
She also loved to play hostess. Some of her clothing was designed by Scaasi, Mollie Parnis, Trifari, and Sally Victor. She was considered one of the “best-dressed” women of the time. And there was even a total “fashion look” coined after her – “The Mamie look”, which was said to be inspired by Dior.
The Mamie Look
The look typically had a full-skirted dress, with lots of accessories like charm bracelets, pearls, little hats, and bobbed, banged hair. In 1953, she wore an inaugural gown designed by Nettie Rosenstein. The gown was incredibly striking and was a pink peau de soie gown. It was hand embroidered with more than 2,000 rhinestones.
Mamie paired it with gloves and jewelry by Trifari, a beaded purse by Judith Leiber, and shoes by Delman. The dress remains on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s collection of inaugural gowns, and is one of the most popular. Mamie’s inaugural dress made that particular shade a pink a very popular color.
Jackie Kennedy is one of the most famous first ladies of all time, and she is equally well known for her fashion. When she met JFK he was already a congressman and obviously on his way to doing great things. The two were considered a very beautiful and fashionable couple, and among the youngest to enter office into the White House. JFK took office in 1960, and the nation was already becoming one that was centered around television and movie culture.
Jackie became one of the first First Ladies whose entire look was consistently dissected. Her fashion choices were a definite hit and she became a major trendsetter internationally. She had one main designer whom she worked with, the now famed Oleg Cassini.
Jackie was extremely careful about her media presence, and she was the first First Lady to hire a press secretary. She controlled the way she was to be perceived as well as the way her children were photographed. She was latched on to in media as “the ideal woman” and the rest of the Kennedy family was also considered to be the ideal – a kind of American royalty. According to academic Maurine Beasley, Jackie “created an unrealistic media expectation for first ladies that would challenge her successors”.
For the inauguration, she helped to design her own outfit with some help of fashion designer Ethan Frankou. She wore an off-white sleeveless silk chiffon gown which was embroidered with silver thread. She topped it off with a matching cape. Jackie knew the moment would be televised and thus picked a color which she knew would stand out on black and white television. Of course, the gown was a hit!
Lady Bird Johnson
Lady Bird Johnson was married to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Of course, LBJ took office in extreme tragedy after the assassination of President Kennedy. Because of this the inaugural event was not particularly as gleeful as it would usually be.
Lady Bird wore a yellow gown by designer John Moore. She purposely chose the color as she wanted it to symbolize hope and optimism for an otherwise nation in mourning. She was very active in the White House and undertook many of her own causes including the Head Start program to help children from lower-income families get a good education. While Lady Bird loved beauty her biggest focus was not on fashion and she preferred to keep her focus other places.
Pat Nixon was the wife of Richard Nixon. At the time Nixon took office, there was massive protesting and a social movement, particularly because of opposition the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Nixon claimed he would restore “law and order” to the United States and his own staff has admitted that they sought to criminalize both the civil rights movement and the anti-war protesters. Obviously, none of this ended well for Nixon. Pat chose to wear a yellow gown for the inauguration as well. It was embroidered with gold and silver and encrusted with Austrian crystals.
The Style of Betty Ford
In many cases, the style of first ladies is often overlooked and the focus is shifted to their extracurricular activities. In the case of Betty Ford, she was a feminist and the founder of the Betty Ford Center which is also one of the most popular clinics ever. Her stylish ways should also get recognition as well, however.
Her looks were something to draw inspiration from. The style of her outfits was not too complex but the simpleness was something anyone could look to when in doubt for their outfit for the day. Standing alongside Gerald Ford, she made him look that much better.
Rosalynn Carter is the wife of President Jimmy Carter, both of whom are still living. At the time of the inauguration the United States was not doing well economically, so instead of a fancy ball the President opted to host something they called the “people’s inaugural parties,” and offered tickets at the affordable price of $25. Rosalynn actually chose to recycle a gown she had previously worn when President Carter was the governor.
She wore a sleeveless blue chiffon gown with gold trim. While she was attempting to publicly make a statement that the president wouldn’t be lavishing themselves in riches while the rest of the nation was suffering, the move did not publicly go over well.
Nancy Reagan was the wife of President Ronald Reagan. Ronald, a former movie star, did not shy away from the limelight or the super extravagant festivities. His inauguration celebrations were allegedly among the most expensive ever. This was met with some public criticism as the nation was in the midst of a recession.
For her first inaugural ball, Nancy wore a white beaded one-shoulder dress constructed of silk satin and a lace overlay. After Reagan was elected for a second term, Nancy wore the designer Galanos and the gown was again white, only this time it was outfitted with long sleeves. Allegedly, the designer and staff spent over three hundred hours hand placing beads onto the gown. The gown cost an estimate $46,000!
Barbara Bush is the wife of George H.W. Bush. She was already a bit older when her husband took office. Her husband had already been the Vice President with Reagan so she was quite accustomed to the White House way of doing things by then. Her inaugural gown was designed to make her appear more youthful. She wore an Arnold Scassi in royal blue velvet and satin.
Scassi had been designing for the first ladies for many years all the way back to Mamie Eisenhower, so perhaps this was a deliberate choice by Barbara to signal that she and her husband were definitely a traditional couple. She also chose to wear pearls instead of diamonds. Barbara was in turn dubbed America’s “most glamorous grandmother.”
Hillary Clinton is the wife of President Bill Clinton. Hillary, of course, had already done a multitude of work on her own separate from her husband’s political career. For the first inaugural ball Hillary wore a purple beaded lace gown which was made by a designer from back in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Allegedly there were fourteen inaugural balls held in their honor by the second time Bill was elected. For the second round of balls Hillary went the high fashion route and wore Oscar De La Renta. The gown was also accompanied by a cape. Oscar De La Renta considers Hillary a friend and said is “a symbol of where women want to go.”
Laura Bush is the wife of George W. Bush. For the first inauguration Laura wore a red-crystal embroidered gown designed by a Texas, similar to her predecessor Hillary. She also wore pearls as a nod to her mother-in-law and former First Lady Barbara.
After Bush was elected a second time, the nation was in a totally different post 9/11 period. Laura took another note from Hillary and wore Oscar De La Renta. She wore an embroidered ice blue and silver tulle gown encrusted with Austrian crystals. Clearly, fashion knows no political bounds and it doesn’t matter what political party you might affiliate with if you like good design.
Michelle Obama is the wife of President Barack Obama. Michelle and Barack broke a lot of boundaries by stepping foot in the White House, namely as the first African American man and woman to be President and First Lady of our nation. Michelle wore Jason Wu for her first inaugural ball. The gown was a white, one shoulder chiffon dress. While Jason Wu was known to the fashion world before, her choice of wearing him catapulted the designer to international fame.
Similar to the Kennedys, the Obamas were quite young when they took office and it was definitely a noticeable shift. Wu has said that the white color was meant to symbolize hope which was a part of her husband’s platform. For her second inaugural gown, Michelle wore Jason Wu again in 2013. The gown she chose was a halter neck red chiffon and velvet gown. She also amped up the accessories with a diamond ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald and Jimmy Choo shoes. Jason Wu was quoted by The New York Times as saying it was “an honor” working with the First Lady. Again, similar to Jackie, Michelle’s fashion choices were constantly followed, with the First Lady ending up as a worldwide style icon. Michelle Obama has been on the cover of Vogue magazine three times and her fashion style is in light completely with the modern style of today.
Melania Trump is the current first lady and the wife of Donald Trump. Before meeting her husband, Melania was a fashion model. For her inaugural gown, however, she definitely went the understated route especially since she knew it would be compared to her billionaire’s lifestyle in Trump Tower.
Obviously, Melania is a fan and well aware of fashion as a former model. In late 2017, the First Lady donated her inaugural ball gown to the Smithsonian Institute, where it will remain on permanent display.
Ida Saxton McKinley
Historians that study the presidents of the past and their first ladies carry similar sentiments when it comes to Ida Saxton McKinley. Many agree that she had a unique style and clear-cut taste when it came to fashion. It was just undeniable. She even had her own signature to her.
The signature style of hers was a standing collar and an insert of chiffon. On top of that, it was often trimmed with pintucks which would soften and complement the outfit. She kept up with the times in fashion and had the pleated ruffles with her underskirts. She was a classy woman.
Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston
It had been noted that Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston was a trendsetter of her time. She had appeared on the covers of Leslie’s and Harper’s and back then, both huge publications, so it slingshotted her into the trendsetter conversation. Even at her wedding, the Washington Post had high praise of her.
“The bride wore an enchanting white dress of ivory satin, simply garnished on the high corsage with India muslin crossed in Grecian folds and carried in exquisite falls of simplicity over the petticoat,” reported the Washington Post. “The orange blossom garniture, commencing upon the veil in a superb coronet, is continued throughout the costume with artistic skill.”
Caroline Harrison’s Inaugural Ball Attire
Caroline Harrison was a fashionista. She got praise from the newspaper and had style added to her grace as the first lady. Also, the Inaugural ball was the first shot for the first ladies at their new position so many times they made statements. Some of the statements were subtle while others were not that subtle. For Harrison, she had an acorn sewn into the design on the back of her dress.
It symbolized her state, Indiana. She made it big but didn’t forget where she came from. The Philadelphia Times called the incoming first lady “a sensible example for American Women.”
In Ellen Arthur’s case, her fashion was not highlighted. During President Arthur’s administration, the times were different so there was not that much of an emphasis on the first ladies so, in turn, President Arthur was the focal point of the fashion in the relationship. And not to toot his horn, there was a good reason for this because he had style.
In fact, the president’s stylish clothes were always an object of great fascination to the public and media. It was as if Ellen’s fashion sense was non-existent. Who knows, maybe she liked it that way in the first place.
Michelle Obama’s Second Inauguration
For her second inaugural gown, Michelle wore Jason Wu again in 2013. The gown she chose was a halter neck red chiffon and velvet gown. She also amped up the accessories with a diamond ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald and Jimmy Choo shoes.
Jason Wu was quoted by The New York Times as saying it was “an honor” working with the First Lady. Again, similar to Jackie, Michelle’s fashion choices were constantly followed, with the First Lady ending up as a worldwide style icon. Michelle Obama has been on the cover of Vogue magazine three times and her fashion style is completely in line with the modern style of today.
Hillary Clinton Gives Tips
Hillary Clinton had a nice fashion sense, so much so, in fact, she would be asked about her style in random various interviews. She would change her hairstyle often as well. Many people looked to heavily into that but at the core, it was not that much of a big deal. Although there was stirring drama during her time as the first lady, she always made sure to stay fresh.
In a 2011 interview, Clinton spoke with Harper’s Bazaar and addressed some fashion. “I have this Ferragamo hot-pink bag that I adore,” she said. “My view was that I would carry it around only in spring, but it makes me so happy, I’m even now lugging it around in January. I mean, how can you be unhappy if you pick up a big pink bag?”
Laura Bush Liked To Keep Quiet
There is a saying in fashion and it also applies to many other things. The saying is “less is more.” This is the mentality that Laura Bush had when it came to her clothes. Sure, she could have been the belle of the ball every time she stepped foot somewhere but she didn’t get down that way. Dallas fashion designer spoke about Bush after he said that Melania Trump got it right at the inauguration.
“What was wonderful about Mrs. Bush was she was always very conscientious about not wanting clothes to speak loudly,” Faircloth said. “She has so many things she felt were more important.”
Pat Nixon Snuck In Some Trends
Even though her husband had a lot on his plate during her time as the first lady, it would be asinine to ignore the subtle fashion styles that Pat Nixon would wear. Imagine Nixon as the person in school that wouldn’t stand out but when she kept up with the Jones’ she would demand a compliment by not even asking.
As you see in the image above, she is wearing a mini skirt (on the right) that was popular during those times. Like we said, it wasn’t often that she would reflect current fashion trends but when she did, she made it look good.
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
As the first, first lady of the nation, you can expect that there were many challenges for her and her husband, George Washington. She had a gentle demeanor and that may not have quieted the people but by the end of her time as the first lady, she had set the tone.
One thing that she had down pat was her fashion. Because she was one of the richest women in that era, she had her pick of the crop when it came to clothes. In 2009, Mount Vernon displayed her royal purple silk wedding shoes and that made opinions of her jump from matronly to slightly daring.
Lady Washington’s Style
Those purple silk wedding shoes caused high named people in the fashion world to compare them to modern day fashion giants. Patricia Brady told the Washington Post “they were the Manolo Blahniks of her time.” She had the money so it only made sense that she would be strutting around in the top tier of fashion.
Martha Washington would always wear expensive clothes. A bolt of her fabric is approximately worth $25,000 thousand today. Historians said she was making statements about the character of the nation during that time. Some of her wardrobe can be viewed at the National Museum of American History.
Dolley Payne Todd Madison
Dolly Payne Todd Madison set a precedent for all first ladies after her. She was the definition of friendly and had a great hospitable nature to her. The fourth president was lucky to have had her by his side. She was not formally educated but had her wits about her, surely.
She won the hearts of many with her personality but her style left people in awe. At James Madison’s inauguration in 1809, she set the scene with a buff-colored velvet gown. It had pearls on it and a feather-accented turban. An early chronicler of Washington social life said, “she looked a Queen…It would be absolutely impossible for any one to behave with more perfect propriety than she did.”
Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Tyler was almost the first lady who wasn’t. John Tyler tried to court her many times, but with no success. An explosion on the USS Princeton resulted in the death of her father and after that, she turned to John for comfort and later that year they were married.
Tyler was considered to be the first woman in the White House to be the equivalent to that of a celebrity. Departments stores would pay to have her in ads and that brought in more customers. She was also known as a fashionista and a social maven because she would garner newspaper coverage. At one event, she wore a long-trained gown with a peacock-feathered headdress.
Although she was not made the first lady by marriage, she filled the role perfectly for James Buchanan. Harriet Lane was his orphaned niece. She got the nickname “Democratic Queen” and she couldn’t be happier to be the acting first lady. And from the very start, she influenced many with her fashion.
Everyone loves something scandalous, right? Well, her inauguration dress was just that. It was a low-cut European-style dress which featured a garland of flowers running down her chest and diagonally across her hips. When people saw the dress, they instantly loved it. It was even copied four years later by Mary Todd Lincoln.
Mary Todd Lincoln
Have you ever known anyone that had a privileged upbringing? In many cases, all of us know at least one person like that. Mary Todd Lincoln was that so that meant she was well equipped to be a fitting first lady and that she was. While her husband had to deal with the pains of the world such as slavery, she made sure the White House was kept in order.
As far as her fashion went, we already mentioned she took the style of Harriet Lane, who was stylish herself so there was no knock in that. Most of her dresses were bold and they would cost up to $2,000 each.
Skin Care Routines
Something that a few of the first ladies would do, especially the gorgeous Jacqueline Kennedy, is have a skin-care routine. Today, women make a living from making YouTube tutorials on how to take care of their skin. Millions of viewers tune into random girls explaining the best combinations on how to make their skin glow.
We know that Kennedy became an icon for beauty and style but it is what she did to keep up that persona. She was like an athlete taking practice seriously and putting hours outside of practice with her skin-care regime. Her go-to was mud soap.
Make Sure To Trend Set
Trendsetting is not for everyone. At first, people will doubt you and think that your choices are too out there. A portion of the population will say nasty things about the way a trendsetter is dressing but then something amazing happens. Out of nowhere, you will start to see others dressing the very same way that they used to mock. It slowly happens and is not an overnight thing.
Francis Cleveland’s image was quickly stolen, however, and was used in multiple clothing and undergarment advertisements. They even had the name “Frankie ads”. She would never follow what the current “in” style was and did what she wanted.
A Hairstylist Is A Must
Something that most can agree on is that it is crucial to find someone who knows how to do hair and more importantly, your hair! Once you find that person, you never want to let anyone else touch your head for as long as you have hair. Your hair is often times the main point of your style. It gets the people going!
Above you see Nancy Reagan. She had multiple hairstylists. All of them were in some of the biggest cities in America too; we are sure that was for a reason. One was in Los Angeles, another in New York and the last in Washington. She would spend a ton of money to keep this up but her style never lost.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Change
We all know that change is apart of life. It is something that we can’t avoid and the longer we try to avoid it, the harder things get for us. While others are stuck in their ways some change all the time and it doesn’t take much for them to switch things up. Mamie Eisenhower was the former. She may have been a trendsetter but something had to give with her hair!
She once had a particular style of bangs for 50 years. We mentioned earlier that your hairstyle often sets the tone for your style so having the same hair for that long could be uninviting. If you learn anything from her it is to change your hair.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Wedding Dress
In 1905, Eleanor Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt’s brother, married Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president’s fifth cousin. They first met when she was 14-years-old and he was 18-years-old. After losing touch they reconnected four years later when they crossed paths at a horse show in Madison Square Garden.
The event was attended by Roosevelts from both sides of the family. F.D.R. proposed to Eleanor when he was 22 and she was 19. A Roosevelt-Roosevelt marriage was not uncommon. Her high collared gown had puffy fabric shoulders, and she wore an elegant hat.
Jackie Kennedy’s Last-Minute Wedding Gown
In 1953, Jackie Bouvier tasked fashion designer Anne Lowe with making her wedding dress, but tragedy struck. Ten days before the wedding, a water pipe broke and caused havoc at Lowe’s studio on Madison Avenue. It ruined 10 of the dresses for the wedding, including Jackie’s gown, which had taken two months to construct.
In a panic, Lowe ordered additional ivory French taffeta and pink silk faille to remake the dress. She and her team of seamstresses were able to do it in the nick of time. The gown, with a classic neckline and bouffant skirt, is one of history’s most iconic wedding gowns.
Barbara Bush Wore Her Mother-In-Law’s Veil
George H.W. Bush met his future wife, Barbara Pierce when they were teenagers in 1941. The former president talked about their first meeting in the documentary titled 41. He said,”They called it a holiday dance at Christmas time and here she was in this red and green dress. I said, ‘Who is this good-looking girl, that beautiful girl over there?’ ‘That’s Barbara Pierce from Rye, New York.’ So then a guy named Wozencraft introduced us. And the rest is history.”
The couple got married in 1945 at First Presbyterian Church in Rye, N.Y. Barbara wore the wedding veil that George’s mother donned in her own ceremony.
Laura Bush Wore A Simple Tan Dress For Her Wedding
Laura Lane Welch married George Bush on Nov. 5, 1977, at her childhood church in Midland, Texas. The newlyweds posed with the future president’s parents, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Unlike her mother in law, Laura did not opt for the traditional, fancy wedding gown. Instead, she wore a simple tan dress she bought off the rack to the ceremony.
She met George at a backyard barbecue in July, and they became engaged just three months later. He was the Governor of Texas from 1995-2000 and became the President of the United States in 2001.
Jackie O’s Famous Oversized Sunglasses
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved wearing sunglasses. She kept multiple pairs of the accessory in a big bowl near the front door of her house so all she had to do was pick one before she left for the day. The fashion icon became known for her oversized sunglasses, and the look was so popular it became known as the “Jackie O” style.
Jackie had several favorite styles, including the Nina Ricci 3203, which were oversize square-shaped sunglasses made with a brown and tan plastic frame. The Spa 2 were large with a black plastic frame and an oval shape.
Hillary Clinton Got Her Wedding Dress At The Mall
Hillary Diane Rodham met the future president, Bill Clinton, while they were both attending Yale Law School in 1971. He was staring at her in the library, so she went up to him and introduced herself. They fell in love and he proposed three years later. Bill wanted a big wedding while she didn’t even care about an engagement ring. (He gave her one anyway.)
The wedding was intimate, but she didn’t even have a dress until the day before. Hillary’s mother went to Dillard’s in the Fayetteville Mall and bought her daughter a Jessica McClintock Victorian lace gown. They wed in their living room.
Michelle Obama’s ’90s Wedding Gown
Like Hillary and Bill Clinton, future president Barack Obama met Michelle Robinson through their love of law. They connected while working at the Sidley Austin law firm in Chicago. Michelle originally opposed dating a colleague, but he convinced her to go on a date with him in 1989. Three years later, they tied the knot.
They got married at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Michelle’s brother walked her down the aisle, and they danced to “You and I” by Stevie Wonder. Michelle opted for a pretty white dress with pointed sleeves on her shoulders and a veil.
Rosalynn Carter’s Wedding Dress Brought 70 Years Of Good Luck
Rosalynn Carter was just a teenager when she walked down the aisle to marry Jimmy Carter, who would end up becoming the 39th president of the United States. She was 18 and he was 21 when they tied the knot on July 7, 1946, in Plains, Georgia, where they both grew up. At first, Rosalynn turned down Jimmy’s proposal. But she changed her mind after he graduated from a wartime class at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The groom wore his Navy uniform, and Rosalynn opted for knee-length dress accessorized with gloves, a hat, and a corsage. The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2016.
Mamie Eisenhower Was Another Teen Bride
Mamie Geneva Doud married future president Dwight Eisenhower on July 1, 1916, when she was just 19 years old. She had just graduated from the finishing school Miss Wolcott’s. Dwight was 25 and an Army lieutenant. They tied the knot at Mamie’s parents’ home in Denver, Colorado, and later honeymooned at a nearby resort.
The couple had an adventurous beginning as newlyweds and moved around the world to accommodate Dwight’s various postings. They traveled everywhere from the Philippines to Panama. Once “Ike” was elected president, Mamie spent much of her time entertaining foreign dignitaries, who enjoyed her style and fashion.
Bess Truman Loved Hats & Wore One On Her Wedding Day
Elizabeth Virginia “Bess” Wallace married future president Harry Truman on June 28, 1919, in Independence, Missouri. She has been described as being a tomboy when she was a child. However, as she turned into a young woman, she liked fashion and particularly enjoyed wearing hats. One friend said of Bess: “Bess always had more stylish hats than the rest of us did, or she wore them with more style.”
Harry met Bess before he left for World War I and proposed in 1911. She said no. He decided to earn a good living before proposing again. She wore a lovely brimmed hat at their wedding.
Lou Henry Hoover’s Dark Wedding Gown
Lou Henry was a fascinating woman. She enjoyed camping with her dad and was a proficient taxidermist. She loved rocks and minerals. She graduated with a B.A. in Geology at Stanford University, where she met future president Herbert Hoover. She was fluent in Chinese and the only First Lady to speak an Asian language.
She and Herbert wed in February 1899 at her parents’ home in Monterey, California. She decided to become a Quaker like the groom, but they were married by a Roman Catholic priest. The bride did not wear the traditional white dress; instead, she opted for a dark-colored gown.
Lucy Hayes’ Wedding Day Dress
Lucy Ware Webb was 21 years old when she married Rutherford Richard Hayes on Dec. 30, 1852, at her family’s home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lucy had a couple of different suitors before settling down with Rutherford. Rutherford’s mother wanted her son to marry Lucy because she admired the young woman’s moral character and religious background.
Rutherford wrote in his diary in 1851: “I guess I am a great deal in love with L(ucy)….Her low sweet voice…her soft rich eyes.” He also called her a “genuine woman.” The couple had eight children together and wore dark clothing on their wedding day.
Eleanor Roosevelt In Fur
These days, many people frown upon those who wear fur, but Eleanor Roosevelt proudly wore the material on numerous occasions while she was the First Lady. Notice the beautiful fur coat she is wearing in this undated photo. The ankle-length coat is covering up a very glamorous dress underneath.
Current First Lady Melania Trump was also a lover of fur, but she no longer wears it. Following Donald Trump’s inauguration, the first lady sent animal rights activist and Playboy Playmate Pamela Anderson a thank you note for an eco-faux fur she received. The gift was a faux lamb fur coat with a vegan belt.
Mamie Eisenhower’s Fabulous Hats & Dresses
Mamie Eisenshower, wife of President Dwight Eisenhower, loved socializing. She was also a big lover of fashion. She took a lot of pride in the clothes she wore and the way she kept their home. The New York Dress Institute named her one of the 12 best-dressed women in the United States every year that she was First Lady.
She inspired the “Mamie Look,” which consisted of large, full-skirted gowns; charm bracelets; pearls; hats; and a short, bobbed hairstyle. She wore both expensive clothes and affordable items. Her pink Nettie Rosenstein gown from her husband’s inauguration is one of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s most popular dresses.
Nancy Reagan Hid A Baby Bump Under Her Wedding Gown
Nancy Davis was an actress in the 1940s and 1950s, and she dated many stars before meeting Ronald Reagan, including Clark Gable. She met Ronald in 1949 when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild. Ronald was not big on marriage, particularly following his divorce from Jane Wyman.
He and Nancy wed in 1952 after three years of dating. The wedding was last minute to avoid the press, and only the best man and matron of honor were in attendance. Nancy was pregnant during the ceremony at the Little Brown Church in Los Angeles. She wore a simple, no-frills dress.
Frances Cleveland Wed A Significantly Older Man
Frances Folsom’s eventual marriage to Glover Cleveland is a bit difficult to swallow in today’s perspective. Grover met his future wife when he was 27 years old and she was just an infant. He doted on her when she was young and bought her several gifts. When her father died in 1875 without a will, Grover became administrator of his estate. Frances was 11.
They became romantically involved when she was in college. They wed in 1886 when she was 21 and he was 49. She wore a white gown with orange blossoms and laurel leaves on the dress.
Grace Coolidge’s Favorite Fashion Accessory: Her Dog
Grace Coolidge fell in love with collies after watching one of them perform in a circus. In 1922, she adopted one named Rob Roy, who lived until 1928 and spent time at the White House with the first family. Grace posed in many photos with Rob Roy and their other collie, Prudence Prim.
Her husband, President Calvin Coolidge, was also a fan of dogs. He is quoted with saying: “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.” They also acquired lions, a wallaby, a pygmy hippo, and a raccoon.
Betty Ford Didn’t Wear White At Her Second Wedding
Elizabeth Anne “Betty” Bloomer married Gerald R. Ford at the Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, MI, in 1948. Unlike most brides, she did not wear white on her wedding day. But she looked fabulous in her shiny dress with matching pumps. It was Betty’s second marriage. Her first husband, William G. Warren, was an alcoholic. They divorced in 1947.
After she met Ford, they delayed their wedding while he was running for the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the New York Times, “Jerry was running for Congress and wasn’t sure how voters might feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer.”