Dec 19, 2008

A First Lady a Day

Let’s start with Eleanor Roosevelt. A great lady, generally acclaimed as of the greats of the 20th Century. Way ahead of her time and proven right on so many issues. It is far beyond my poor ability to assess her place in history.
But we are talking fashion here. This is superficial.
I grant you, she was not considered a stylish gal. Certainly not the prettiest First Lady. She really did have more important things to focus on than clothes.

from :"Eleanor Roosevelt's inaugural dress, 1933
When Mrs. Roosevelt wore this lavender velvet day dress at her husband's first inauguration on March 4, 1933, the press dubbed the color "Eleanor blue." In 1945 she donated the dress to the Smithsonian along with the gown she wore to her husband's fourth inauguration."

Let’s see. 1933 - big Depression going on. And darn, that’s a nice dress. Not terribly glam, not young, but very tasteful. Pretty color, the silk velvet is classy. Soft, friendly. Old Money and Good Family. A good look, not over the top and sensitive to the economics of the day. A good solid B. But I want to know what she wore to the 2nd and 3rd balls.

from the Life Archives: Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt modeling inaugural dress.

Date taken:1945 Photographer: Frank Scherschel

1945 - I actually like this. Makes the most of her height. The economics are in better shape in 1945, and the war is winding down, so a little more glamour is ok. Looks graceful in the photos - I assume a crepe with beaded lace sleeves. Appropriate for a 61 year old woman. Much, much better suited to her than some of her day time looks. I give it a definte B+.

also from the Life Archives: Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt modeling inaugural dress.
Date taken: 1945 Photographer: Frank Scherschel

Not so good. Sleeves are too short, short light coat over long dark dress - meh. And yes, full length coats were in style. The fur and the flowers on the hat - not so good together. This just looks like any average American woman of a certain age going out to lunch. I know by 1945 the Inauguration was just what the Roosevelts did on Jan. 20 every four years, but this is a little too blase.

12/19 UPDATE: I just read that FDR didn't even go to the First Inaugural Ball, he worked all night and Eleanor went alone. FDR canceled the Second Ball due to the Depression and canceled the 3rd due to war in the world. What a guy.

12/21 UPDATE:

from 1933 Inaugural dress

This is wonderful. Flatters her shape. uses her long neck. Very elegant, simple, ladylike, right for a ball during Hard Times. But I notice - no accessories. Maybe a small bracelet or two? Some earrings? I am being very picky. An A.

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