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Please note that the following is a digitized version of a selected article from White House History Quarterly, Issue 52, originally released in print form in 2019. Single print copies of the full issue can be purchased online at Shop.WhiteHouseHistory.org No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. All photographs contained in this journal unless otherwise noted are copyrighted by the White House Historical Association and may not be reproduced without permission. Requests for reprint permissions should be directed to rights@whha.org. Contact books@whha.org for more information. Š 2019 White House Historical Association. All rights reserved under international copyright conventions.


WHITE HOUSE HISTORY Quarterly

WHITE HOUSE HISTORY Quarterly

Mid-Century Fashion and The First Ladies: From Ready-to-Wear to Haute Couture The Journal of T H E W H I T E H O U S E H I S T O R I C A L A S S O C I A T I O N Number 5 2

Mid-Century Fashion and the First Ladies: From Ready-to-Wear to Haute Couture

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Number 52

In this issue of White House History Quarterly we highlight the fashions of the first ladies during the middle of the twentieth century. Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Betty Ford: each took a different approach, for different reasons. Their choices—from ready-to-wear to haute couture—reflect their times and what they saw as their role, as well as, of course, their personal taste. Our cover features sketches by designer Oleg Cassini for an evening dress and a daytime dress for Jacqueline Kennedy ( front cover) and a wool suit designed by Cassini for Mrs. Kennedy (above) on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cassini’s appreciation for the first lady’s regal bearing is realized in an attached train on the gown, a playfully imperial touch for a first lady who knew great popularity in her time.

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WHITE HOUSE HISTORY Quarterly

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Mid-Century Fashion and The First Ladies: From Ready-to-Wear to Haute Couture The Journal of T H E W H I T E H O U S E H I S T O R I C A L A S S O C I A T I O N Number 5 2

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the white house historical association

CONTRIBUTORS

Board of Directors CHAIRMAN

Frederick J. Ryan Jr. VICE CHAIRMAN AND TREASURER

John F. W. Rogers SECRETARY

James I. McDaniel PRESIDENT

Stewart D. McLaurin John T. Behrendt, Michael Beschloss, John T. Behrendt, Teresa Carlson, Jean Case, Cathy Gorn, Janet A. Howard, Knight Kiplinger, Martha Joynt Kumar, Anita McBride, Mike McCurry, Robert M. McGee, Ann Stock, Ben C. Sutton Jr., Tina Tchen EX OFFICIO

David S. Ferriero, Carla Hayden, Tom Mayes, Earl A. Powell III, David J. Skorton DIRECTORS EMERITI

John H. Dalton, Nancy M. Folger, Elise K. Kirk, Harry G. Robinson III, Gail Berry West WHITE HOUSE HISTORY QUARTERLY EDITOR

William Seale VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLISHING AND EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Marcia M. Anderson EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

morgan blattenberg is a technician in the Collection Management Services Department of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. an n h and is the founder and CEO of the jewelry design firm Ann Hand, LLC, based in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She has designed pieces for every first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy. kr i st en a . h unt er is the senior editorial and production manager at the White House Historical Association. haley m. rivero is the director of external relations and special projects at the White House Historical Association.

Lauren McGwin SENIOR EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION MANAGER

Kristen A. Hunter EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION MANAGER

Elyse Werling EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Rebecca Durgin CONSULTING EDITOR

Ann Hofstra Grogg CONSULTING DESIGN

Pentagram EDITORIAL ADVISORY

Mac Keith Griswold Scott Harris Anthony Pitch Lydia Barker Tederick

kr i st i n s ki n ner is a decorative arts historian. She is currently a collections technician at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Gross Point Shores, Michigan. lonn taylor is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He retired from the Smithsonian Institution, where he was a historian at the National Museum of American History, in 2002 and now lives in Fort Davis, Texas.

THE EDITOR WISHES TO THANK

The Office of the Curator, The White House

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CONTENTS

Hats worn by Jacqueline Kennedy on display at the exhibition, Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years—Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum at the Field Museum in Chicago, 2004.

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FOREWORD

TEARDROPS OF THE MOON: Memories of Designing Jewelry for the First Ladies

william seale

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THE STYLE OF FIRST LADY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Fashion and Frugality in Times of Depression and War morgan blattenberg

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THE MAMIE LOOK The Americanness of First Lady Mamie Eisenhower’s Off-the-Rack Fashions kristen a . hunter

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THE JACKIE LOOK Oleg Cassini and the Creation of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Signature Style GETTY IMAGES

haley m. rivero

an n h and

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FIRST LADY BETTY FORD’S CASUAL ELEGANCE The Style of an Ordinary Woman in Extraordinary Times kr i s t i n ski n ner

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PRESIDENTIAL SITE FEATURE A Cottage in Denison, Texas: The Birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower lonn taylor

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REFLECTIONS: HONORING PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER The 2019 Christmas Ornament stewart d. m c laurin

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FOREWORD

The First Ladies & MID-CENTURY FASHION

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They bring to mind our first first lady, “Lady Washington” as she was sometimes called. In her portraits she may look the antithesis of style in her time, when an informal, French taste for muslin dominated. But she still, in the utmost chic, donned her domino—the same mask the Lone Ranger usurped 150 years later—when she and the president attended the theater, nor did she remove it. Their choices and the reasons for them mirror the first ladies themselves.

william seale editor, WHITE HOUSE HISTORY QUARTERLY

G GE ET TT TY Y II M MA AG GE ES S

The White House presents a kaleidoscope of images relevant to the presidency, while the central image, the White House itself, remains the same. All the other images are transitory and rearranged in time by those who live in the White House. It is these ancillary images that personalize the presidency, administration by administration, and help to define a particular era. Among these are the fashions espoused by the first ladies. In this issue of White House History Quarterly we learn about first ladies’ tastes and choices in the twentieth century, in the decades that today’s collectors call “Mid-Century Modern.” There is great variety. All wanted to look good, good,look lookappropriate, appropriate,and andeach eachone onetook took a different a different approach, approach, for different for different reasons. reasons. Their public Their public attitudes attitude toward toward thethe world worldand and their times, as well as the importance of their own roles, are reflected in their distinctive styles.

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A seamstress at Arnold Constable department store in New York City makes the final alternations to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s Easter dress, 1939. The frugal Mrs. Roosevelt often shopped in department stores for ready-to-wear clothing.

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White House History Quarterly 52 - Mid-Century Fashion - Foreword  

White House History Quarterly 52 - Mid-Century Fashion - Foreword  

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