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First Ladies and the Politics of Fashion

The first lady is a wife, a diplomat and often a social activist. We care a great deal about her... and what she wears. 

First ladies in the United States are known for some impressive accomplishments as political figures, but they also serve as hostess-in-chief for the White House. According to historian and author Annette Dunlap, that tradition started with Dolly Madison, who twice served as first lady. 

Credit Library of Congress, Print & Photo Reproduction Division
Lou Henry Hoover's cotton gown.

This hour on Talk of Iowa, Dunlap talks with host Charity Nebbe about first ladies and their fashion throughout history, including Iowa first ladies Lou Henry Hoover and Mamie Eisenhower.

In terms of style, Hoover is considered one of the more iconic first ladies. She was already considered “best dressed” in public life when she moved into the White House and was the first first lady to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa