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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Visit with the First Ladies

Along with seeing Julia Child's kitchen I got to see some beautiful clothes owned by some famous women. I took a stroll through the fashion world of America's First Ladies.

The first dress is Caroline Scott Harrison (1889-1892). It is a burgundy velvet and gray satin evening gown. 

I could not get enough of this suit. It was Nancy Reagan's (1981-1989) and it was designed by Adolfo. It reminds me of a Chanel suit. It is a cream colored two piece wool knit with a cream silk blouse. I just think that it is absolutely stunning. 

This dress belonged to Lou H. Hoover (1929-1933). It was a floral patterned silk day dress fastened at the waist with a costume jewelry brooch. 

And of course I could not forget the beautiful Jacqueline Kennedy. This was her state dinner dress. It was a yellow silk evening gown with overlay of crepe chiffon designed by Oleg Cassini. Her costume pearl necklace was designed by Kenneth Jay Lane. 

The gold dress belonged to Julia D. Grant (1869-1877). It was a white silk damask evening gown from the early 1870's. According to the Grant family, the rose-patterned fabric was a gift from the emperor of China. 

This dress belonged to Edith B. Wilson (1915-1921). This was a black charmeuse satin dress trimmed with beads, black velvet and white net from the House of Worth in Paris. 

The gold dress belonged to Lucy W. Hayes (1877-1881). It is gold damask and cream satin worn in 1880 to the White House New Year's reception. 

This was Mamie D. Eisenhower's dress (1953-1961).  It is rose-colored silk damask ball gown designed by Nettie Rosenstein and worn to a 1957 state dinner at the British Embassy. The ensemble included a matching purse and shoes. 

Not only did the first ladies have beautiful clothes but excellent taste in china. Here are a few of my favorites. 

This was pieces from a Sevres china service that belonged to Abigail Smith Adams. One of my favorites because of the blue and white pattern. 

These pieces of French porcelain service were used by John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa. 

These are pieces purchased by Julia and Ulysses Grant. Haviland & Company made the French porcelain decorated with flowers and the United States court of arms. 

These were so pretty in person. Mamie Eisenhower used this gold-plated flatware made by S. Kirk & Son. 

Of course I could not walk away without seeing Melanie Trump's dress. It is vanilla silk crepe off the shoulder gown with a slit skirt, ruffled accent trim from neckline to hem and a claret ribbon around the waist designed by Herve Pierre. 

I thought this was gorgeous!!  I don't know why but I do. It belonged to Rosalynn Carter. It is gold embroidered sleeveless coat over a gold-trimmed blue chiffon gown. The dress was designed by Mary Matise for Jimmae. 

And of course who could forget Michelle Obama's dress. This is a one shouldered white silk gown embellished with organza flowers with Swarovski crystal centers, designed by Jason Wu. The shoes were Jimmy Choo and the diamond jewelry was designed by Loree Rodkin. 

Michelle's jewelry 

This was Bird Johnson's Inaugural gown and coat. It is yellow satin and sable trimmed designed by John Moore. 

This photo does not do this silver set justice. This was probably a gift to Mary Lincoln from the citizens of New York. Made by the Gotham silver company, the pieces are engraved with her monogram and the Todd Family crest. 

And lastly this is a copy of the diamond necklace from Edith Roosevelt. The original and the copy were made by Harry Winston. I did not know that Harry Winston made copies! How fabulous! 

Well I hope that you enjoyed this post and learned a few things about the first ladies. I know that I loved looking at all of these dresses, jewelry and china. For a moment I felt that elegance was all around me. And as a woman who seeks it I try to embrace it for as long as a can because elegant women just aren't around as much anymore. I wish more women would take heed to the first ladies. 

(photos via Mrs. Shockley)


  1. Dear Mrs. Shockley,

    That was so well done! You took excellent photos and must have taken notes to remember all the details. Thank you for putting all that effort into this post.

    I have not seen this exhibit, but now I feel like I have seen the highlights.

    WELL DONE!! Warmly, Kathleen

    1. Thank you Kathleen! If you are like me then you like to know the details of items. I know I do! So I just wanted to make sure that if I was going to post about the dresses that I had the information about each one of them. It makes the photos all the more interesting. Thank you for reading as always!