A Tribute to Nancy Reagan: Three of the Best Dressed First Ladies


[ot-caption title=”Nancy Reagan pictured with her husband, Ronald Reagan, a good thirty years before his presidency. (via Martin Hagberg, Wikimedia Commons)”]

On Sunday March 6, 2016, 94 year old, former first lady Nancy Reagan passed away. She accomplished many things during her time as first lady, such as starting the “Just Say No” campaign to eliminate teen drug use. To honor her life and legacy in the world of fashion, here is a tribute to her best fashion moments in conjunction with those of two other stylish first ladies.

Mrs. Reagan was an actress before becoming first lady, just as her husband, Ronald Reagan, was an actor before becoming president. Needless to say, she knew a thing or two about “Old Hollywood” style. She was the epitome elegance, wearing pieces by the designers Oscar de la Renta, James Galanos, and Carolina Herrera: the it fashion crowd of the 80’s. From day to day, she wore pleated skirts and trench coats. However, some of her most memorable looks were evening gowns, most of which are preserved in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.   Nancy Reagan was no stranger to taking bold strokes to support worthy causes.  So, to convey her powerful persona, she wore a lot of red. Although red garments seemed to be her choice of attire, she did occasionally wear softer colors like white and yellow. She was a woman of strength and expression, which can evidently be seen in her fashion choices.

Another first lady that doubles as a style icon is someone who exemplifies the phrase “best dressed first ladies”: Jackie Kennedy or, as she is more commonly known, Jackie O (her maiden name was Onassis). Similarly to Mrs. Reagan, Jackie Kennedy’s style was classic. She wore gowns by Christian Dior and frocks by Lilly Pulitzer. She was actually one of the first public figures to wear Pulitzer’s designs, causing the brand to skyrocket in popularity. She embodied the swinging sixties with bright prints, shift dresses, mod skirt suits, and rounded sunglasses. Her sense of style was so versatile that she could wear a scarf, cropped jacket, and bellbottom jeans one day and then a shaped dress, pearls, and gloves the next. Jackie Kennedy captured an era of fun, balancing it perfectly with her ever-lasting sophistication.

Now, to bridge the past to the present, the current first lady Michelle Obama showcases the modern, forward-thinking clothing of today. She wears the designers of Thakoon, Jason Wu, Isabel Toledo, and Narciso Rodriguez. But, the fashion picks from past first ladies aren’t far off from Michelle Obama’s. The work of Jason Wu has been compared to that of Oscar de la Renta, a designer whose clothes were worn frequently by Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Obama’s style consists of many bright colors and floral prints. Her focus is as traditional and elegant as that of her predecessors.

These three first ladies have one main thing in common: their personality traits are shown through their clothing. Fashion plays an important role in history, much more than most people realize. This can be directly seen through Nancy Reagan, Jackie Kennedy, and Michelle Obama. Their style parallels the voice of the times in which they served as first ladies.

Sources: About Style: Michelle Obama, About Style: Jackie Kennedy, W Magazine, Wikipedia, Smithsonian, Wikimedia-Nancy Reagan, Wikimedia-Nancy Reagan #2, Wikimedia-Jackie Kennedy, Wikimedia-Michelle Obama