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November 9, 2011

Mamie Eisenhower’s Gowns From The First Ladies At the Smithsonian Exhibit

By RetroRuth

It’s time to oogle some gorgeous vintage fashions, and this time, it’s Presidential!

We had the chance to tour the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History this summer, and I got to happily “ooo” and “ahh” over the First Lady fashion exhibit while Tom obediently snapped pictures of the gowns for me.  I was blown away by everything in the exhibit, which was wonderful. There was just so much there, both in terms of fashion history and in American history! Getting to see so many fabulous, one-of-a-kind dresses made me light-headed.

And my favorite dresses were, of course, Mamie Eisenhower’s!


Here is Mamie’s 1953 pink (!) gown that she wore for President Eisenhower’s inauguration.  The Smithsonian’s website states:

Mamie Eisenhower wore a pink peau de soie gown embroidered with more than 2,000 rhinestones to the 1953 inaugural balls. The dress was designed by Nettie Rosenstein. Despite urgings to release details of the dress, Mrs. Eisenhower waited until the week before inauguration to reveal descriptions of her sparkling pink gown, along with formal photographs, for the newspapers.


Mamie Eisenhower wore gloves that matched her gown, and rhinestone-and-pearl earrings, necklace, and bracelet by Trifari. She carried a purse beaded by Judith Leiber (then an employee of Nettie Rosenstein). Her shoes by Delman had her name printed on the left instep.


This lovely red number is another of Mamie’s lovely fashions. You can see how flashy and amazing this is! It outshines all the gowns there, even the yellow silk gown on the left that was an evening gown worn by Jackie O and designed by Oleg Cassini!  The pink dress on the right is a rayon crepe designed by Arnold Constable that was worn by Eleanor Roosevelt. It was also beautiful, but no match for Mamie’s.


From the Smithsonian website:

Mamie Eisenhower wore this rose-colored silk damask evening gown for a 1957 state dinner at the British Embassy. Nettie Rosenstein designed the ensemble, which included a matching purse and shoes.


The First Ladies at the Smithsonian is currently not on display, but, according to the Smithsonian website, it is only being moved and should be on display again on November 19, 2011. In the meantime, you can see the online exhibit here.

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5 Responses to Mamie Eisenhower’s Gowns From The First Ladies At the Smithsonian Exhibit

  1. Andrea Reply

    November 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Such gorgeous dresses, all of them! Wow!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      November 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Aren’t they so pretty?? I was completely floored by the exhibit!

  2. sablemable Reply

    November 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Our First Lady of Pink!

    Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuth! I love going to the Smithsonian(s)! So many goodies to see, so little time.

    Only thing in DC that I care about right nowk, LOL!

  3. Sara in AZ Reply

    November 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    If I could have that pink Inaugural dress I would wear it every day, even to the grocery store! 🙂 Love, love, love those gowns!!!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      November 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      I know what you mean! I don’t think I would ever take it off. Ever!

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