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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.
Later, after building a family and transitioning into the world of politics, the mother of two tended toward preppy trousers and dainty shifts.
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.
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.
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.
Said designer Oscar de la Renta of the late first lady, “[She] never made a single faux pas.”
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!”
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