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Polished and Glamorous: Late Style Icon Nancy Reagan's Most Memorable Looks


At first a Hollywood darling, and later America’s First Lady,
Nancy Reagan
was endlessly influential, handling life in the spotlight with grace and aplomb all the way down to her attire.

Nancy Reagan at President's dinner
Diana Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

Nancy, who followed her husband President
Ronald Reagan
in death after suffering congestive heart failure over the weekend, maintained her signature, trend-setting style well into her 90s.

As an actress and the wife of then-film star Ronald, Nancy went for glamour in silk gowns and pretty pastels throughout the 1950s and ’60s.

Nancy Reagan the tonight show
Chris Haston/NBC

Nancy Reagan bonnet

Later, after building a family and transitioning into the world of politics, the mother of two tended toward preppy trousers and dainty shifts.

Nancy Reagan opening of 'Art'
Ron Galella/WireImage

Her most iconic fashion moments, however, came during her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Many will recall Nancy’s 1981 inauguration gown – a stunning white, one-shouldered dress made of beaded silk and designed by James Galanos. Paired with white gloves also by Galanos and David Evins’ beaded shoes, she held a clutch designed by Judith Leiber.

Nancy Reagan white dress
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

It was also in the halls of that White House that she first began a long-standing love affair with the color red. From coordinating sets to printed shifts by designers like Bill Blass, James Galanos, Arnold Scassi and Carolina Herrera, Nancy incorporated the vibrant shade into red carpet ensembles and stumping suits.

Nancy Reagan Princess Diana
David Levenson/Getty

In fact, the inimitable activist’s sartorial sensibilities were so renowned, a year-long exhibit was dedicated to her frocks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, in 2007.

Nancy Reagan presidential forum
Jim Smeal/WireImage

Said designer Oscar de la Renta of the late first lady, “[She] never made a single faux pas.”

Nancy Reagan Rita Hayworth event
Ron Galella/WireImage

Nancy Reagan movie premiere

While many looked to Nancy for her taste, not everyone was a fan of her overflowing wardrobe – namely, the former president.

“Ronnie had always teased me about how I should clean out my closet,” Nancy said during the opening of her fashion exhibit. “Now I’m glad I held on to my dresses for so long!”

Nancy Reagan with Princess Diana
Tim Graham/Getty

The always-charming Nancy was 94. She will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, next to her husband, who died on June 5, 2004.

What do you remember most about the former First Lady’s style? Tell us in the comments below.

–– Lindsay Kimble