Dec 19, 2008

A First Lady A Day - 1953/1957

That means it’s Mamie Day!

I have to say it. She reminds me of my grandmother. Something I think I actually said in my grandmother's hearing once. Only once. Mamie was 10 years older after all.

So - she was well liked. She was considered stylish, and with the whole pink thing, she owned the 50s. She wore designer dresses. But I always had the nagging suspicion that under that 1950s , vivacious, handy helpmeet exterior, there beat the heart of the Mrs. 5 Star General, fully accustomed to spit and polish and to having her instructions followed promptly without question. Just a feeling.

Now - 1953. The dress. Designed by Nettie Rosenstein. I actually think this looked really good when I saw the black and white photos. Very full, very New Look, but a good line and bodice for her.

From Life Archives: First Lady Mrs. Dwight D. (Mamie) Eisenhower posing in her inaugural ball gown with jeweled purse encrusted with 3,456 pink pearls. Location: US Date taken: 1953 Photographer:Nina Leen

But then I saw it in color. Oh My. Matchy, Matchy. Yes, yes, I know, the 50s is the height of matchy matchydom. But still - look at the Babe Paley post from 2 days ago. You can rise above it! It’s just Too Much Pink for a mature woman. My dear, she is 57 years old. Cut the pink with some white gloves for heaven’s sake.
And I just can’t talk about the hair. Dress: B+, styling: C-.


I did find this Inaugural Day dress shot - like the dress. Not fab, but harmless. She does look happy. But step away from the Orchid!! It’s too huge for a petite woman. It's the size of her head. And the charm bracelets - just too many. I have one, too. From the 60s. I don't wear it for formal occasions. Dress - B, styling: C-.

Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower attaching an orchid to her dress in preparation for the inaugural ceremonies for her husband. Location: Washington, DC, US Date taken: 1953 Photographer: Mark Kauffman

Second Ball, 1957. I can’t find a color shot, or even a terribly good full length one. Second Inaugural Ball gowns don;t get the press the first does. She has good shoulders. Especially for a woman of 61. This looks really good . Lacy, but simple. Classy. I give the dress a A. Now if I find that color shot and it's all the same color - I'm downgrading it. The hair is better here - still with the bangs, but the tight overly curled side bits are definitely more subdued. Still not a hairstyle we will see revived any time soon, but better. C.

from Life Archives: Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower & family, during the Inaugural Ball.
Location:Washington, DC, US Date taken: 1957 Photographer: Hank Walker

from Life Archives


Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

I love your inauguration posts! Keep 'em coming! I much prefer Mamie in black and white too.

fuzzylizzie said...

I really think it is interesting how, though considered to be a very fashionable woman during her time, Mamie has not retained that image. Perhaps it highlights the difference between "Fashionable" and "Stylish."

Past Perfect Vintage Clothing said...

Lizzie , you may have just it. But you know I am sure there are many who feel Mamie is still the height of style.

Veronica Miller said...

I have a photo from the Eisenhower museum of Mamie's 2nd inaugural dress (in color b/c I took it). It is SO much better than that first pink one--it's ivory/gold and GORGEOUS. Would you like me to send it to you?