Much has been blogged, written and commented about American’s most beloved First Ladies, and the fashion choices each has made. However, as we look back over history, some First Ladies have proven to be continually relevant in fashion, and some have receded into forgotten history as quickly as their husband’s annual presidential addresses. Here is our top list of fashion trends inspired by America’s First Ladies that are still relevant today.
#1 Betty Ford
Betty Ford’s name may be known around the world for the alcohol and drug treatment center she founded after her personal struggles with substance abuse where made public, but Betty’s love for lapel pins and brooches may have been a close second to a vodka martini. While in the White House and for years after, she pined on her signature style. Incidentally, the brooch is back in a BIG way this Fall, so pin one on and channel your inner Betty:
Want to try out the brooch trend yourself? Designer Vera Wang featured some fabulous crystal options in her Pre-Fall collection as did Balenciaga for Fall:
#2: Jackie O
Where to even start. Jackie was responsible for an almost endless number of trends (Chanel tweed, classic pearls, short jackets, capri pants), but her most unique and copied fashion favorite was the matching pillbox hat:
Is it any wonder that the costume department over at AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ is taking direct inspiration from Jackie’s wardrobe to dress Christina Hendricks and January Jones who play the executive secretary and rich housewife respectively on the show set in the 1960’s? So popular is the show’s fashion influence that Banana Republic is designing a Mad Men collection. Expect a pillbox thrown in the mix. After all, a chic accessory is the best way to update an outfit you already have. If you want to get in on the pillbox trend now, try this great black and silver cube pillbox hat by English milliner, Bee Smith.
#3 Barbara Bush
Her husband may be forgettable (or unforgettable depending on how you look at it), but her love of the 3-strand pearl necklace is anything but. Worn with casual and evening dress, on official functions and while out campaigning, Babs found a way to incorporate her favorite necklace:
Not only is Barbara’s preferred color palette what you should be wearing this Fall, but when it doubt, wear pearls. They are classic, sophisticated and polished. Need more proof? Look who else wore them:
And, who is featuring the multi-strand pearl necklace in her 2011 Fall collection:
4. Hillary Clinton
Surprise, we aren’t going to knock Hill for her smanish pansuits! Rather, for her unexplicable love of the headband. In the early 1990’s when Bill took office, Hillary wore her accessory of choice, everywhere. As the pics prove, it seems she continues to think its appropriate to wear high school hair, even to official events as the Secretary of State of the United States:
What is old, becomes new again. Isn’t that what they say? Well, don’t stop reading now when I say that Hillary may have actually worn the headband so long, that it is actually back into style. Chanel Pre-Fall featured a gorgeous gold Byzantine metal headband that I for one, am dying to try out:
Hillary and Chanel. Who knew? Miu Miu also gave some head embellishment love in its 2011 Resort collection:
5. Michelle Obama
Two words, trite as they may be, are so influential on current style, a denial is pointless: cinched waist. Michelle does not have the ideal body, but she does have an extremely keen sense of what areas of her body she can flaunt (those arms can probably crush Barack when he is bad) and chiefly among them is her small waist. By pairing her iconic sheath dresses, cardigans and even coats with a great belt, Michelle is able to create a better proportion by elongating her body and creating a shape, rather than a straight up and down line running from her shoulders to hips (the widest points on her body):
You can get this look for yourself by taking inspiration from Thakoon’s Pre-Fall collection, which coincidentally, is Michelle’s preferred designer (he did her white inauguration gown):
Or, try this Rachel Roy Pre-Fall 2011 sleeveless Jersey dress with braided silk black belt:
Want to try a more casual look with a great belt? Try pairing a leather wrap belt with heavy hardware over a jumpsuit as seen here in Donna Karan’s Pre-Fall 2011 collection:
Although politics often times can lead to division, surely we can all unite in agreeing that the better half of our Commander in Chief, both past and present, are influential in setting fashion trends not only while their husbands were in office, but in these specific cases, for generations to come (we are throwing Michelle in this group because we know “style icon” will probably be added to her personal calling card quite soon…. if it isn’t already).