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White House History

Perhaps the most immediately recognizable article of apparel associated with the White House is the top hat. Lincoln’s is the most famous, but for many years every president-elect wore a top hat to his inauguration. Eisenhower stopped the custom; Kennedy brought it back but it has not reappeared since Kennedy. This top hat belonged to Woodrow Wilson, who wore it to his inauguration in 1913 and also to the great meeting at Versailles at the end of World War I.

White House

History

Fashion

FASHION Journal of the White House Historical Association Number 32 Number 31

The following article first appeared in issue #32 of White House History, the journal of the White House Historical Association. For more information about the journal please visit www.whitehousehistory.org.

White House History (ISSN 0748-8114) features articles on the historic White House, especially relating to the building itself and life as lived there through the years. The views presented by the authors are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the White House Historical Association. The White House Historical Association is a nonprofit organization, chartered on November 3, 1961, to enhance understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the historic White House. Income from the sale of White House History and all the Association’s books and guides is returned to the publications program and is used as well to acquire historical furnishings and memorabilia for the White House. Address inquiries to: White House Historical Association, 740 Jackson Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006 www.whitehousehistory.org Front Cover: Dark green velvet dinner gown that belonged to for First Lady Sarah Polk, now in the collection of the James K. Polk Ancestral Home. Photograph by Bruce White for the White House Historical Association

C Copyright 2012 by the White House Historical Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the White House Historical Association.

Foreword We introduce costume to White House History in this issue, with plans for other issues on the subject. Looking good speaks for itself. For the president and first lady, it is a requirement. They need not be fashion plates, although some have been that, as, for example, Dolley Madison and Jacqueline Kennedy—and as you will see in this issue, Sarah Polk, Edith Wilson, and Frances Cleveland. At the White House the desired image mingles traditional simplicity with appropriateness. This was not so evident when Thomas Jefferson took office. He determined to illustrate at the President’s House “republican simplicity” in his hospitality as well as in what he wore. You will see in this issue that he made his point, then dropped the matter. Casualness is hard to sustain, and can send an undesirable message of laxness, so some level of formality and organization has always been needed to frame the president and first lady in their house. We address this matter in articles on the uniforms of domestics and on the presidential valets, who often had the last word on style in what the presidents wore. A glossary of textile terms used in the articles is on page 87.

William Seale Editor, White House History

Edith Bolling Wilson, soignée in every particular, alights from a White House car in heavy rain about 1918. Hat, cape, long gloves, and reticule complement the shiny buckled shoes, with their Louis heels.

library of congress

bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

Woodrow and Edith Wilson Costumed for the World Stage

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lothes provide a barometer of life, livelihood, status, and culture. They tie the wearer to a moment in history. The most available means of establishing historical provenance for clothing is photography; the maker’s labels sewn into the garment aer another means. The medium of photography introduced in 1839 provides extensive contemporary documentation about costume and how it is worn. Historical photography portrays the reality of the sitter’s clothing, whereas, as the fashion scholar Christina Johnson states, “Fashion plates reflect only the most fashionable garments and present styles when they are first introduced.” Labels furnish historians and scholars with the identities of makers and manufacturers, where the garment was made, and sometimes even the owner of the garment. The first fashion designer to sew labels into his garments was the English-born Charles Frederick Worth, who rose to world fame in the Paris of Napoleon III.1 And one of Maison Worth’s famous and devoted customers was Edith Bolling Galt, whose remarkable history was accompanied by her love of style. She was

Edith Bolling Galt purchased this taffeta and lace dress in 1907 in Paris at Maison Worth. One of the expensive costumes with which she customarily enhanced her wardrobe from time to time, she identified it for history on the calling card she used after her years in the White House.

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to become President Woodrow Wilson’s wife, but her adventures in costume preceded that. Born October 15, 1872, into a respected Wytheville, Virginia, family, in 1896 Edith Bolling married Norman Galt, a successful Washington, D.C., jeweler and businessman who took her away from the little town and hard times. In July 1907, they vacationed in Europe. Visiting Paris in August of that year, Mrs. Galt wrote: “Walked down the Rue de la Paix with ‘N’ [Norman], stopped at Worths’ to make a 2 o’clock appointment with Madame Birot.”2 At the Magasin de Louvre, Galt purchased for his wife a striking gray hat with black rosettes and two expensive veils. A last stop was at Perines, the noted glove maker. Returning to Maison Worth for her appointment, Mrs. Galt described her purchase: “We finally decided on the shade of heliotrope for my suit and ordered three pieces.”3 Years later she pinned a note to her taffeta and lace dress with three-quarter-length sleeves, stating: “This is my first dress made by ‘Worth’ in Paris—on my first trip to Europe.”4 There were to be many more trips to Europe for Edith Galt, both privately and in the spotlight of the world. Eight years forward, Norman Galt was long dead, and the widow married Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States. She later described her wedding dress as “a plain black velvet gown with velvet hat trimmed with goura [feathers] . . . and had lovely orchids,” and the president wore “a cutaway coat and grey striped trousers.”5 At the Pan-American Ball in January 1916,

the first lady’s ensemble of a black velvet gown with a long train of silver over blue was enhanced with a fan of gray feathers on a stem of mosaics in shades of blue resembling the ceremonial fans of the Far East.6 The bridegroom, freed from deep grief of his first wife’s passing, seemed more himself again and even took a greater interest in clothes. For the June 14, 1916, Preparedness Parade from the U.S. Capitol to the White House, Wilson wore “a blue sack coat, white flannel trousers, white shoes,”7 and a straw boater hat. With no waist seam, the sack or lounge coat was cut either straight or curved in front and single or double breasted. President Wilson marched in step with men’s fashion. The years from the late nineteenth century to World War I are considered a dividing line in the democratization of clothing that affected both men and women. Mass production was the vehicle. Worth had foreshadowed this change in 1858 by deciding to incorporate machine-made elements into his clothing. Then, in the 1860s, paper patterns changed fashion. The Worth establishment continued to enjoy high profits from European royalty and celebrity, while enjoying as much or more the open wallets of American clients like Edith Bolling Wilson. Worth’s luscious silks, chiffons, velvets, and brocades woven in the mills of Lyons continued to beguile prosperous clients even as styles changed. In the 1870s, Jean-Philippe, Worth’s son, began to assume responsibilities in the business, and thirty years later in Mrs. Wilson’s time either he or his brother Gaston-Lucien were responding to new styles that enhanced women’s mobility by freeing them from strictures of tight clothing, especially the tight-laced corset. In theory this movement in fashion was a bit radical in concept, illustrating a means by which women could take charge of their bodies.8 In 1916, the brassiere, promoted by the former Worth designer Paul Poiret, became the latest undergarment for the less-burdened figure while ensuring an up-to-date shape. The end of World War I saw changes again in silhouette of dress and hair styles as women began to bob their hair and forgo the once-popular prewar upsweep. For men, the necktie was universal. Socks were midcalf, and collars were still short with wings, but rounded. As early as 1919 soft shirt collars appeared in a riot of forms and colors, and in both silk fabric and madras.9 Yet the stiff, detachable shirt collars so familiar to Woodrow Wilson remained his preference. Soldiers 50

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returning home from war accustomed to the soft collars of military uniforms were no longer content to utilize the rigid uncomfortable detachable collar. By the 1920s the soft collar was universal on men’s shirts.10 Presidents and first ladies are difficult to costume when they travel, for the demand to look perfectly attired is constant. By Wilson’s time travel had become frequent for the head of state, and he and his wife, when she was along, had to look perfect. Wilson’s momentous announcement on November 18, 1918, that he would personally attend the peace conference in Europe presented a tremendous clothing challenge to his staff. As she packed, Edith Wilson remained mindful of her obligation “to dress well as a representative of the people of

Edith Wilson sat in a Green Room chair for this portrait painted by Seymour Stone in 1920. When the Wilsons retired to S Street, N.W., in Washington, the portrait was taken along and still hangs today in their dining room. The pin she wears, by Lalique, is described on page 59.

the United States.”11 Her presence marked the first official overseas trip by a president’s spouse and set a precedent for future first ladies and foreign leaders. International travel in 1918 required multiple modes of transport via ship, rail, and motorcar. The details of preparatory planning and packing for President Wilson’s European trip were enormous. Appointed a member of the U.S. Peace Commission in December 1918, Captain John T. Nightingale of the Coast Artillery Corps (CAC), U.S. Army, was charged with “making all arrangements for the sorting, labeling, transportation and final delivery in Paris of the personal baggage of the President,” his immediate party, and members of the commission. In addition, Captain Nightingale’s other tasks included responsibility for the schedule arrangements of the Special Presidential Train, the president’s June 1919 trip to Belgium, and “compiling an expense report to the Army of the Peace Commission.” Nightingale also was given the assignment of touring the devastated regions of France in January, by automobile, “for the purpose of surveying for the

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bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

President’s proposed trip,” and later an assignment as officer courier for dispatches sent from London to Paris.12 A diary entry of Tuesday, December 3, 1918, by Irwin “Ike” Hoover, White House chief usher, reveals that the personal staff closest to the president included, besides himself, Colonel Arthur Brooks, the valet, and Susie Booth, Mrs. Wilson’s longtime maid.13 Other aides included Mrs. Wilson’s secretary, Edith Benham, and the White House stenographer, Charles C. Wagner. Among the many items packed for President Wilson were his assorted hats and top hat case. Mrs. Wilson preserved the top hat worn by Wilson during this trip. In “Nor Time nor Absurdity Can Quell the Top-Hat,” Camille De Latour lamented the return of the top hat when it reappeared on the head of an English minister, in 1916.14 Wide brimmed and somewhat curved, the top hat is today a sort of curiosity, but in Wilson’s time it was the emblem of high formality and, in public life, authority. Fedoras and Stetsons were also in Wilson’s repertoire. A client of the Knox Hat Company of New York, Wilson had a beaver high hat and fedora containing the legend: “Moveo Et Profico, Knox, New York and Stinemetz, Washington, D.C.,” trademark insignia for the Knox Hat and the reference to Stinemetz likely indicating that the hat lining was replaced at a later time.15 The presidential party arrived at Brest December 13, 1918. The president was in Europe for two months before leaving February 15, 1919 to return to the U.S. for a brief few weeks, after which he and his party returned to rejoin the meeting at Versailles. From Brest, the Wilsons rode by motorcar to the railroad station for an overnight train to Paris, arriving Saturday morning December 14, 1918. A grateful Europe acknowledged America’s war effort as cheering American and French soldiers and citizens greeted President Wilson along the railways and the boulevards of Paris. Shortly after arriving at the “Paris White House,” 28 rue de Monceau, the President and Mrs. Wilson hastily prepared to attend a luncheon. For this occasion, Edith wore “a new black dress with [the] fur, my black hat with the gray feathers and some of the orchids which were blue-gray.”16 Edith Wilson remembered an incident concerning the president’s wardrobe. Scheduled to attend a luncheon at the Élysée Palace given by the president of France, Raymond Poincaré, and Madame Henriette

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Benucci Poincaré, the Wilsons were taken into a large reception room and the guests were presented to us. The world and his wife were there, all in their smartest attire with uniforms and medals conspicuous in the foreground. Members of the Cabinet, and the president, wore long old-timelooking tightly-buttoned frock coats, which reminds me that as we were hurriedly going to our rooms to change for this function a young American officer dashed up with the information that no one in Paris wore cutaways, or morning coats, as we do in America, “frocks” being the only coats used for formal wear. They were so out-ofdate at home that I said: “Oh, but I am afraid the President did not bring such a garment.” The faithful Colonel Brooks, presidential aide and later valet since the administration of William Howard Taft, saved the day by assuring them he had brought two, as “one never knows different customs in different countries.” So my husband appeared at the lunch as he should, and we seemed suddenly to find ourselves in the act of being introduced to the whole of France.17

Fitted at the torso and flaring at the waist, frock coats created a skirt effect. President Wilson’s black wool twill skirted frock coat, lined in silk satin and with a split in the back tails, was tailored by Bastable & Carroll of New York and was used by him from 1902 until 1919. Another label in the garment reads “Mr. Dr. W. Wilson [in script] April 1902.”18 Likely, this frock coat is the same Wilson had tailored for his induction as president of Princeton.19 Frock coats were later replaced by morning coats designed to curve away from the waist to expose a waistcoat. The placid, formal and symmetrical eighteenthcentury exterior of the now-vanished palace belied the feverish activity of soldiers, aides, and clacking typewriters as meetings and planning sessions occurred inside. An unidentified London Times Paris correspondent after an interview with President Wilson, December 18, 1918, described the Wilsons’ personal accommodations: Mrs. Wilson’s rooms are fashioned of paneled wood or walls covered in brocade—a drawing room, bed room and boudoir and bath. Space meant for leisure. On the other side, the president

quarters comprise a drawing room, bedroom and library of study in place of a boudoir. Mr. Wilson is characterized as tall, well set up with an athletic figure in his gray lounge suit he is well cut into his body. A gentleman in and in the best sense of the word an American.20

An election in Great Britain stalled the launch of the peace conference for nearly one month, so the Wilsons visited England and Italy. At Buckingham Palace, King George V and Queen Mary feted the Wilsons with a banquet. During the war, jewels and tiaras had been locked away for safety. Using the dinner as a reason to bring them out, Lady Sandhurst asked Mrs. Wilson if she would wear a tiara. The first lady noted that she did not own one, graciously adding that she would love to see others wearing their tiaras. Earlier in the day there had been a conference with President Wilson to determine what style of dress was to be worn. Wilson explained that the U.S. chief executive never wore uniforms, as was the European custom abroad, and that regular evening clothes were suitable on every occasion. In My Memoir, Edith Wilson describes the Queen Mary’s attire: “The Queen was stunning in a white gown with the blue Order of the Garter across her low bodice, a coronet of diamonds, and other magnificent jewels. I loved looking at her. My own gown was very simple—a princess black velvet with long train and no jewels.”21 The contrast in dress seemed unconsciously to represent the difference between a monarchy and a democracy. From London, the New York Times, December 27, 1918, relayed an account of the first lady’s visit to the American Women’s Club as guest of honor. She was dressed in gray chiffon embroidered with jet, the report stated, and wore a black picture hat trimmed with silver fox and silver roses.22 When the Wilsons visited Italy in January 1919, students of the University of Turin presented the president with a “Tyrolean” style hat, c. 1918. To the delight and excitement of the students, President Wilson wore this gift when he was awarded an honorary degree by the university. Some of the other gifts of personal attire that the Wilsons received are in the Wilson House collection. The Smithsonian Institution has a “peace pin,” presented to Mrs. Wilson by the people of France on December 16, 1918, at the Hotel de Ville (city hall). It was created by the noted French jeweler and glass

designer René Lalique, who developed it from a 1906 prototype olive branch pin with birds, then referred to as pigeons. In the image resurrected after the armistice was signed, the pigeons became doves, to signify peace.23 At this lunch President Wilson was given a gold pen with this notation: “Le Peuple Francais offre la plume avec laquelle il signera la pix juste, humaine et durable” (The people of France offer the pen with which to sign the peace, just, humane and lasting.)24 The peace conference opened on January 18, 1919, at Versailles. Among those attending were the so-called Big Four—David Lloyd George, prime minister of Great Britain; Georges Clemenceau, French prime minister and minister of war; Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, prime minister of Italy; and Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. head of state. On the sidelines, Mrs. Wilson was very conscious of her appearance. Although a news story had noted with admiration that she would wear “strictly Made-in-America” clothes,25 she did not. Among her surviving costumes is a Maison Worth c. 1915 French blue tailleur—a three-piece ensemble, with a skirt, jacket, and overblouse, tailor made. The fashionable straight line of the skirt featured a hem midcalf with a hookand-eye closure hidden inside a wide pleat. Accompanying the skirt, the jacket displays a geometric pattern; black and gold thread embroidery on the collar and front coat add decorative color. With its hook-andeye closures, it falls below the hip. Worn with the jacket was a long black silk scarf attached to the collar. Embroidery of art moderne style adorns the exterior bottom edge of the jacket cuffs. The suit’s decorative braid designs recall a military motif, which, given the time and place of its creation, is not surprising. But the floral and botanical designs associated with art nouveau are also evident in the soft interior silk lining of the jacket and in the blouse’s three-petal tulips outlined in deep purple with green leaves and pale yellow stems. A photograph from the Woodrow Wilson collection records that Mrs. Wilson wore this Worth military-style suit when she attended the Paris 1919 Longchamp races. After several months and two voyages across the Atlantic, Wilson and other dignitaries met on June 28, 1919, to sign the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. That evening, the French President and Madame Poincaré hosted a farewell dinner for the U.S. president and first lady. The dress of the women was dazzling, the

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bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

time and life Pictures / Getty imaGes

bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

The demands of the presidency require large wardrobes. Some of the coats President Wilson wore in France survive today in his closet at the S Street house in Washington, including a Chesterfield and a greatcoat. In the photograph taken with General John J. Pershing in December 1918 during a review of the Fifty-Sixth Division of American troops at Chaumont, France, Wilson wears a double-breasted fur coat, probably of either kangaroo or wombat, and a top hat. The coat hangs in the closet, bearing the label “The Crosby Frisian Fur Co. Rochester, N.Y.� A top hat in the Wilson House collection, with initials and label, is seen lower left.

bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

Displayed in an umbrella stand in the house on S Street is the flock of walking sticks used by President Wilson, most of them gifts from admirers. His Arrow Shirt collars, in the Amolek style commonly called “wing collars,� are fastened with mother of pearl buttons in the center front and attached to a collarless shirt. The trademark printed inside identifies the manufacturer of the heavily starched and waxed collars as Cluett, Peabody & Company.

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Edith Wilson, determined to dress as befit a representative of her country, selected her clothes carefully. The casual afternoon suit she selected to wear at the Longchamps races, above, was a three– piece ensemble with skirt, jacket, and overblouse. The label inside the jacket identifies Worth as the couturier.

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bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

the woodrow wilson house

President and Mrs.Wilson traveled to Europe twice to attend the Paris Peace Conference in 1918 and 1919. Packing for the journeys was a tremendous undertaking. The tag on the president’s high hat case and lid is well marked.

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bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

jewels plentiful, and they stood out in contrast to the men’s dark evening suits. Edith described her Worth gown as “long, tightly draped skirts (in vogue) of heavy black charmeuse, cropped in the front from a low hip line and wound tightly about the figure with lines ending in the back in a fish-tail train and sequin and color shades from black to gun metal to dark and light gray to white at the bust and shoulders.” Climaxing this memorable garment was the great diamond pin with doves of peace. Worth made Mrs. Wilson a costume tiara of sequins and rhinestones, which she wore, and she also carried a huge fan of shaded gray feathers with tortoiseshell sticks.26 War cast a long shadow in clothes design. As troops returned home, U.S. retailers ventured that homecoming soldiers, acclimated to wearing a uniform cap, would embrace the civilian cap into their wardrobe accessories. Sellers remarked “for fall high colored caps in rough fabric will be featured.” Yet, unsure about price between retailer and manufacturer, others expressed a more careful position, noting, “We find business at present to be more or less at a standstill.” Employing a market strategy of sales to celebrate peace, welcome soldiers home, banish camouflage, and encourage soldiers to dress confidently, sellers introduced comparative pricing in the guise of “Dress Up Week.”27 Advertising enticements by Gimbel Brothers, New York, and Wanamaker’s of Philadelphia lured men to purchase spring suits. The essay “Opinions Regarding Men’s Attire,” which appeared in Men’s Wear: The Retailer’s Newspaper, conveyed “that dress suit the occasion and in paying attention to detail when dressing hair should be dressed to display life, collar should fit the neck, scarf neatly tied and clothes be put on properly and boots be groomed.”28 Be simply but well dressed. On March 4, 1921, Wilson and his wife left the White House to take up private life at 2340 S Street, NW, Washington, D.C., an elegant town house purchased for them by friends. In and out of office, they had basked in outdoor activities—taking drives, playing golf, and riding horseback. But these were no longer possible after the stroke Wilson suffered in the fall of 1919. Edith packed away her riding habit and skirt and much other apparel she had worn in her six years on the world stage. In trunks and boxes they were to remain for nearly fifty years. Woodrow Wilson died on February 3, 1924. After his death, Edith continued to travel—to Europe and to China—now and then per58

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forming diplomatic-related functions that memorialized America’s progressive president. Writing to her younger brother, Randolph Bolling from the Hotel Windsor Étoile in Paris, August 29, 1926, she described the loss of her diamond pin bar enclosing a sketch. The platinum and 32 diamond jewel with scratched numbers 1644684795 on the underside was later located, as she recounted to Randolph via mail postmarked “Paris Sept. 2 1926”: “my pin has been found so don’t worry about it.”29 Edith Wilson’s interest in fashion never subsided. Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli were two of many post–World War I designers she patronized. Styles were changing and becoming modern. The war had disseminated luxe fabrics, and Chanel introduced jersey into her collection. During a postwar trip to Paris, Edith visited the House of Chanel, ordering a knitted suit which she wore with a cloche, a bucket hat that was a symbol of the 1920s. From the designer John Redfern she bought a black velvet dress, c. 1922–25, with wraparound skirt, gathered shoulders, a front square neckline, and straight back. The slim silhouette has a tunic style overhanging bodice below the waist. This flapperstyle garment gathers at the left and pulls from the right. A slight bend in the sleeves falls in fullness from the elbow and terminates in narrow self-cuffs.30 When World War II began, Edith resumed volunteer work with the Red Cross. By that time she was shopping at home in Washington. Among her costumes is a 1942 wartime suit fashioned by the renowned women’s apparel establishment Rizik Brothers, a landmark Washington, D.C., clothing institution. Mrs. Wilson died December 28, 1961, eleven months after President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. With her husband, she is buried in the Washington National Cathedral. Christine Sadler Coe of the Washington Post observed, “She continued to dress beautifully and was skilled enough with the needle to whip up a hat for herself when the fancy strikes.”31 Throughout her adult life Edith Wilson witnessed the cusp of vast social and cultural changes in America—including fashionable dress. From her Worth lace and high-collar dress of the early twentieth century through the flapper and shapeless styles to accepted casual dress of the 1960s, she was mindful of the importance of a respectable appearance, dressing in a manner befitting her role as America’s first lady. It is often observed that Edith and Woodrow Wilson were always well turned-out.

division of Political history, national museum of american history, smithsonian institution bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

Mrs. Wilson’s jewelry was often high fashion. She was a first lady with a taste for ornament. Above is the Peace Pin that she wears at her waist in the portrait by Seymour Stone (page 51). Measuring 6H inches across and 2H inches high, the diamond pin is an arrangement of olive branches and doves, symbols of peace. Right: This 14 kt gold and aquamarine brooch was given by President Wilson to the first lady on the occasion of their third wedding anniversary. The cushion-cut stone (square with rounded corners) is surrounded by eighty seed pearls and four diamonds.

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Below: In a letter written to her brother in 1926, Edith Wilson sketched a pin set with thirty-two diamonds that she feared was lost.

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bruce white for the white house historical association \ collection of the woodrow wilson house

This sleeveless evening dress, c. 1920–23, is from Mrs. Wilson’s fashionable postwar wardrobe. Styled in what was to be called the “flapper” mode, the flat straight silhouette was known as “androgenous.” It is made of black silk chiffon with fringe that moved with the motion of the wearer. Rhinestones and beads embellish the neckline, front skirt, and bodice.

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NOTES The author would like to thank Peggy Dillard of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library for her assistance. 1.

2.

Christina M. Johnson, “Each Button, Button-Hole and Every Fold: Dress in the American Daguerreotype Portrait,” Dress 31 (2004): 25; Elizabeth Ann Coleman, The Opulent Era: Fashions of Worth, Doucet and Pingat (New York: Brooklyn Museum, in association with Thames and Hudson, 1989), 20. Claire D. Murphy, Dressed for the Occasion, A Fashion Chronicle of the Wilson Style, an exhibition organized by the Woodrow Wilson House, A National Trust Historic Site, Washington, D.C. (1997), p. 1. See also Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, My Memoir, (Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs Merrill Company, 1939, 188. Edith Wilson visited Perine’s on December 24, 1919 with President Wilson. The establishment was located on the Avenue de l’ Opéra. See also Kristie Miller, Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies (Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2010), 105. Edith Galt was a longtime client of the English-born Charles Frederick Worth, a major French fashion designer. Worth & Bobergh opened at 7 rue de la Paix in 1858 with a staff of twenty. When the French Empire fell in 1870, the establishment became a hospital. In 1871 after France surrendered to the Prussian Army, the salon reopened under the name of Worth, housing the salon, workrooms, and his home under the same roof.

15. Woodrow Wilson House, A National Historic Trust Site, Washington, D.C. 16. Arthur S. Link, editor et al, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Vol. 53, November 9, 1918-January 11, 1919 (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1986), personal correspondence of Edith Bolling Galt Wilson to Her Family, letter to Dearest Ones: [Paris] Sunday, December 15, 1918, 398. 17. Quoted in Miller, Ellen and Edith, 195. 18. The coat is in the collection of the Woodrow Wilson House, Washington, D.C. 19. Ibid. 20. From Our Paris correspondent, “Interview with President Wilson,” Times (London) December 21, 1918. 9. The Times interview text contains some of the same descriptions of the interiors of Murat Palace as mentioned in Papers of Wilson, ed. Link, vol. 53. The Times interview provides Wilson’s physical description, his attire in the gray lounge suit, and character. See also, “A News Report of an Interview,” in ibid, 422–32. “Upon his return to the Murat Palace he [the President], saw Mr. Adams, of the London Times.” Most likely, Cary T. Grayson Papers, Wilson Presidential Library. 21. Edith Wilson, My Memoir, 199, 200, 202. Constructed without a waist seam, the princess style was sleek fitting. It was popular in the 1870s and named for Alexandra, Princess of Wales, by Worth.

3.

Murphy, Dressed for the Occasion, A Fashion Chronicle of the Wilson Style, 1. Heliotrope is a purple named after the Mediterranean plant Heliotropum.

4.

Woodrow Wilson House, A National Historic Trust Site, Washington, D.C.

5.

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, My Memoir (New York: Arno Press, 1980, c. 1939, 86. Edith Wilson later donated her wedding dress to the Smithsonian Institution.

6.

Ibid., 93.

23. Edwards Park, “A Symbol That Failed,” Smithsonian Magazine, January 1998, online at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/A-Symbol-ThatFailed.html. In 1953, Mrs. Wilson donated the brooch to the Smithsonian.

7.

Ibid., 101.

24. Edith Wilson, My Memoir, 182.

8.

Cunningham, Reforming Women’s Fashion, 4–5; Steel, Corset, 1.

9.

“Popularity of Soft Collars Increasing,” March 3, 1919, Men’s Wear, The Retailer’s Newspaper, Vol. 46, Issue 2, Number 9, Feb–Apr 1919 (Chicago: Fairchild Co., 1919), 87.

25. Miller, Ellen and Edith, 159, n. 92, cites the Aberdeen (S.D.) American, Dec. 7, 1918, 4.

10. Claudia B. Kidwell and Margaret C. Christman, Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974), 123. 11. Robert P. Watson, ed., University of Hawaii Hilo, ISBN: 978-1-58765-271-4, March 2006, Volume 1, Edith Wilson (Library of Congress) American First Ladies Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, p. 3. 12. Archival Collections at the Library, John T. Nightingale Collection:1 linear foot. (1907–1921); Bulk: 1917–1919). John T. Nightingale Collection no. 000450, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Stauton, Virginia. http://www.woodrowwilson.org/library-a-archives/archival_collections-at-thelibrary, (4/21/2012), 5. 13. I. H. Hoover, diary, December 3, 1918, Edith Bolling Wilson Papers, General Miscellany, box 57, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 164. See also, William Seale, The President’s House, A History, Vol. II, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C., White House Historical Association, 2008), 85. 14. Camille De Latour, The Vogue Archive, Special Features: “The Crowning Dignity of Man: Kings May Fall and Republics Go By The Board, Feminine Modes May Come and Go, But Neither Age nor Time nor Absurdity can Quell the Top-Hat” Vogue 54.6 (September 15, 1919): 61, 138.

22. “London Heart Won by President’s Wife: Mrs. Wilson Cheered Everywhere Because of Her Gracious Self, British Writer Says, Meets Her Country Women Greets Those of High and Lowly Estate at Tea in American Women’s Club,” New York Times. December 28, 1918, 2.

26. Edith Wilson, My Memoir, 269–70. 27. “Cap Market Unsettled Because of Price Uncertainty” Men’s Wear: The Retailer’s Newspaper, March 5, 1914, 108. “News from Various Sections, What the Merchants Are Doing: New Stores Opening—Old Ones Being Remodeled—Changes In Some Well-Known Firms and the Incorporations of Others—Interesting Personal Mention,” Men’s Wear: The Retailer’s Newspaper, Vol. 46. Issue No. 2, Number 9, Feb–Apr 1919 (Chicago: Fairchild Co., 1919) 113. Thirty-five states partook in the Dress Up Week campaign. 28. Boughton, “Opinions Regarding Men’s Attire As Expressed by a Famous Gentleman of the Old School-Fashion Notes and Sketches from Palm Beach,” Men’s Wear The Retailer’s Newspaper, March 5, 1919. 29. Edith Wilson to Randolph Bolling, August 29 and September 2, 1926, Edith Bolling Wilson Papers, Family Correspondence, EBW-Bolling, 1926–28, box 2, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. 30. The dress is in the collection of the Woodrow Wilson House, A National Trust Historic Site, Washington, D.C. 31. Christine Sadler Coe, “Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, ‘First Lady Extraordinary’ Grand Dame of Former First Ladies Nears Tenth Decade,” Washington Post, October 15, 1961, F5.

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White House History

Perhaps the most immediately recognizable article of apparel associated with the White House is the top hat. Lincoln’s is the most famous, but for many years every president-elect wore a top hat to his inauguration. Eisenhower stopped the custom; Kennedy brought it back but it has not reappeared since Kennedy. This top hat belonged to Woodrow Wilson, who wore it to his inauguration in 1913 and also to the great meeting at Versailles at the end of World War I.

White House

History

Fashion

FASHION Journal of the White House Historical Association Number 32 Number 31


Woodrow and Edith Wilson: Costumed for the World Stage