The Best Of First Lady Inaugural Fashion & Beauty
Of all the historic moments that go down on US Presidential Inauguration Day, one of the most anticipated is that first glimpse of the new First Lady as she steps out in her Inauguration gown. Here, we round up some of the best First Lady Inaugural looks over the years.
Of all the outfits she might wear during her tenure in the White House, the Inauguration gown counts as one of the most important – and one of her most challenging wardrobe dilemmas. Its importance is such that the gown is usually donated to the Smithsonian and preserved for history. There are also other weighty issues attached to the gown which the First Lady must consider when deciding what to wear. Not only does this mark her first official outing in her role as First Lady but the gown will also convey what style statement she might make throughout her years in the White House.
Michelle Obama chose the young New York-based designer Jason Wu for both her Inauguration Balls. Her choice catapulted him into the international limelight and his career skyrocketed. She continued championing young American designers but also became known for not being afraid to mix more inexpensive items from Gap or J.Crew in her public wardrobe – surely a first for a First Lady.
Other notions the First Lady must pay attention regarding her inauguration gown is the mood of the times. For Lady Bird Johnson back in 1965, she was entering the White House after the horrific assassination of John F. Kennedy. The mood of the country was sombre but should she have worn black? Instead, she savvily chose to wear a bright yellow gown. The colour was like a beacon of hope and optimism and the message to the nation was perhaps: America will be okay. Other First Ladies like Roslyn Carter back in the 1970s during the oil crisis chose not to have a new gown made, instead choosing one from her existing wardrobe. Perhaps it was a signal to the nation that they will not have a wasteful presidency.
So with such scrutiny and expectations, all eyes will be on Melania Trump on Inauguration day on her choice of attire. A former model with a lithe body that seems to prefer luxury European designers, hers will be a wardrobe that will be heavily scrutinized over the coming years.
We round up some of the best First Lady looks, beauty and fashion, below.
FASHION: The First Ladies preceding her favoured established Seventh Avenue designers like Oscar de la Renta but Michelle Obama’s first day as First Lady signalled a new sort of establishment. She became not just a role model, but her fashion choices were not so much aspirational but reflected a style statement that most American women could relate to or easily mimic. She mixed young designers with more established ones and also embraced items from such mainstream mall stores like Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic. She knew what suited her body type and her look – even in her most glamourous moments – seemed effortless.
First, her first walk after the President was sworn in, she went with an outfit from Isobel Toledo – a designer that was known more to fashion insiders than the nation at large. The lemony lace dress and matching coat was bright and cheery and seemed to signal the gust of fresh air about to burst through the White House.
BEAUTY: Michelle Obama’s expression during her first walk as FLOTUS in 2009 shows the joy and pride on her face – and her natural looks are first and foremost.
FASHION: Laura Bush did not rock the boat when it came to her wardrobe. She was always impeccably turned out, favouring bright colours and the most classic of lady-like accessories – pearls.
BEAUTY: In 2001, Laura Bush was determined to be herself – a no-nonsense Texan – and her short feathered haircut is a low-maintenance look that was glammed up with a red lip.
FASHION: Hillary Clinton made no bones about the fact that she would never be regarded as a fashionista. Even as a First Lady – before her trail blazing campaign for Presidency last year – she was favouring bold colours for her practical suitings and coats.
BEAUTY: With her hair tucked up under her matching hat, Hillary Clinton’s expertly tweezed brows, black eye liner and red lip added sophistication and glamour to her suit.
FASHION: Nancy Reagan was a First Lady that loved the colour red and often featured it in her wardrobe. For the walk-about, she looked striking in the crisp January sunshine in the luscious red coat and matching hat.
BEAUTY: An actress first, Nancy Reagan knew her best angle and also what make up looked best on her and on camera. For President Reagan’s first inauguration in 1981, she chose a lipstick shade that matched perfectly with her hat and coat creating a seamless and sophisticated look.
FASHION: Rosalyn Carter’s outfit for the walk-about on Inauguration day still looks modern and contemporary today. This simple, streamlined outfit confirms her practical and unfussy spirit.
BEAUTY: Rosalyn Carter let her southern belle charm shine in 1977, a glowing complexion with a slash of lipstick was all she needed.
FASHION: Perhaps one of the most glamourous First Ladies, Jackie Kennedy, merely 32 years old at the time, was uncannily media savvy when it came to her wardrobe. It was said that she knew what would look great in a photo and on television and would dress accordingly to stand out in a crowd. Thus, she helped designed this cape and dress she wore to the Inauguration Ball in 1961.
FASHION: Like a belle right out of Gone With The Wind, Mary-Todd Lincoln showed grace, poise and demonstrated that even way back in 1861, First Ladies, dressed to the nines for the Inauguration Ball, confirming it’s not a modern day phenomenon for our fashion-obsessed society.