Friday, October 23, 2009

republican first ladies from 1800 to and facts...(part 3)

as we continue our journey on fashion and facts of the early history of the republican women first ladies...we slip in a non first lady...just to spice things up a on...

Ida Saxton McKinley was a vivacious young woman who met and married William McKinley in January 1871. She had been a pretty, fashionable leader of the younger set in Canton, Ohio, and worked in her broad-minded father’s bank.

The walking skirt that Ida is wearing maybe just the type of dress she would wear to work. This skirt, copied from an original silk skirt of two generations ago, is known as the Kick Pleated Walking skirt. It was just the fashion to provide for a lot of movement when you walk. In keeping with the custom of the time for persons working in banks, this outfit was probably originally made in black, rather than the vibrant red Ida has on.

Unfortunately, when the McKinleys moved into the White House in March 1897 there was no trace of that girl. Ida was close to being an invalid.

Contrary to protocol, Ida was always seated beside the President at state dinners and he always kept close watch for signs of impending seizures that plagued Ida. When he saw a seizure coming on he would cover her face with a large handkerchief for a moment. The First Lady and her devoted husband seemed oblivious to any social inadequacy. Guests were discreet and newspapers silent on the subject of her "fainting spells."

Although heavily medicated, Ida McKinley insisted on participating in White House life and refused to let any other female family member take over the role of official hostess. When not giving her opinions on matters of state Ida spent much of her time crocheting. It is estimated that she crocheted 3,500 pairs of house slippers.

When the President was shot by an assassin in September 1901, after his second inauguration, that ended both Ida and William McKinley's days in the White House.
Ida followed her husband in death six years later.

Coming up next we have...wait...You were never a Republican President's wife and what are you doing in that outfit?
Oh, you must be Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of Alice Hathaway, the child of the marriage between Alice Hathaway and Theodore Roosevelt, whose mother died in childbirth. Well, go ahead and show your costume and I'll tell the story.

This is the step daughter of the second Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, also known as Edith Carow Roosevelt. Edith’s husband, Theodore, was the Vice President and upon the assassination of William McKinley was elevated to the Presidency in 1901, and served until 1909.

Edith was described as a "gentle, high-bred hostess", who sometimes tactfully curtailed her husband's long-windedness by gently tapping on a tabletop. She was the first First Lady to put a social secretary on the payroll, and she arrange portraits of past First Ladies in a "First Ladies’ Gallery," where the paintings still hang. She was treated warmly by the press, but most of the media's fascination was with her vivacious and somewhat troublesome teenaged stepdaughter, Alice Roosevelt, or as she was usually called in news accounts, "Princess Alice".

This model is wearing a cancan outfit. Alice may have never actually worn it but she most likely went to places where they did. This Kelly green and goldenrod skirt accents a striped corset and black silk chemise. The many rows of ruffles swish as she walks, providing tantalizing glimpses of her striped stockings and perhaps a glimpse of her long under garment.
And next we have...

Republican William Taft became the 27th President, making his wife's dream come true. Helen Herron Taft, known as "Nellie", became First Lady.

Here Nellie is wearing a touring dress. This goes along with one of the accomplishments she brought to the White House, replacing the carriages with automobiles. Nellie's attractive outfit is made of a deep rust red linen and an olive green cotton. This combination is used to draw ones attention to the dress design, specifically the decorative olive tone stitching along the edge of the drapes on the skirt and hem. The hat is made with a peacock feather to match the garment.

All Nellie needs is a touring coat, goggles and veil and, of course the White House chauffeur, and she is ready to go touring. Nellie most likely will go check on another of her accomplishments. She was having a few Japanese cherry trees planted along the avenue. Upon finding out about this, a Japanese chemist and a consul facilitated the donation of an additional 3,020 Japanese cherry trees from the mayor of Tokyo.

Take a look at the Nellie's dress again and notice the Japanese kimono style bodice.

Nellie was very well versed in politics, often sitting in on important political discussions and accompanying William on political trips and golf outings. Nellie was the first First Lady to attend the convention, where in 1912, the Republican Party was split between Taft and Roosevelt. This split nearly broke her heart and, long before the election, she began packing. She knew the split would mean a victory for the democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.

It is a good thing Nellie insisted on comparison shopping and reviewing every expenditure. She even managed the Taft's personal budget so well that, after four years, she had set aside $100,000 in the family bank account. Nellie could stay in fashion even when leaving the White House.
stayed tuned for part 4...
script by: Bobbi Parson Batchelder
vintage fashion by: Corinne Pleger (Trained at the Fashion Institue of Design in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Corinne has been making costumes for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Curious Collectors of Baker Street, various Victorian events and museums, as well as Union uniforms for Civil War re-enactments, She teaches at, and has been Dean of, the Costume College at the Costumer's Guild West, and her costumes have won many awards, including Best in Show at the Los Angeles County Fair)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin