I love a fashionable first lady, and so I can't let the opportunity pass to wish Nancy Reagan a very happy 90th birthday. In spite of being first lady smack in the middle of one of the worst fashion decades of the 20th century, Mrs. Reagan moved through this era of blue eye shadow and huge hair relatively unscathed. Sure, she encountered some controversy along the way--she failed to disclose gifts of clothing and jewelry on certain financial forms--but bless her Bill Blass-loving heart, she is widely credited with bringing a style and elegance back to the White House that had not been seen since Camelot.
Nancy had several style signatures: lots and lots of red, one-shouldered evening wear, and a penchant for tailored suits with pearls and heels. She loved to sport a buttoned-up blouse with a bow at the collar, often with monochromatic suits with matching hats which were a frequent choice for daywear. Nancy's look was classic and stands up against the test of time.
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No matter how one feels about their politics, the Reagans were a couple clearly in love, for the duration of their marriage. I find their devotion to one another inspiring, and I think that combined with her outward beauty, Nancy Reagan's inner beauty makes her a true style icon both on her own and among the ranks of first ladies throughout history. Her tireless work on behalf of Alzheimer's research--bucking the prevailing wisdom within her own party to urge for embryonic stem cell research--contributes to her owning a special piece of my heart. Happy 90th, Nancy.
Correction: Nancy Reagan's 1981 fabulous Inaugural Ball gown was by James Galanos. An earlier version of this article misnamed the designer.