Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dressed for the Inauguration Ball

Hello everyone. President Obama's inauguration was Monday so I know I'm a bit late with this post. The inaugural balls are over now and its time for everyone to get back to work. However, there is still plenty of talk on the Internet about First Lady Michelle Obama's red dress and those worn by other first ladies. Also my camera graciously decided it would allow pictures to be downloaded so now I must share :)

I first saw this dress at a local antique shop a few days before New Years. I fell in love at once! A gold sparkly 1950s party dress? What's not to love!?! What really intrigued me though was the tag which said the dress had been worn to Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural ball. Hmmm, could that be true?

But alas, sadness... Having spent more than I should have over Christmas break, I couldn't bring myself to spend any more at that moment. (Even though the dress was very reasonably priced, much lower in fact then similar dresses sold online.) I spent several minutes admiring then forced myself to walk away. A few days went by but I couldn't stop thinking about the dress. (Does that ever happen to anyone else?) So needless to say I went back to the antique shop last week. Amazingly, the dress was still there so bought it. I guess it was meant to be. :)

Luckily for me the seller was also there up dating her booth. We got to talking about the dress, it's history, and a number of other things. Turns out I used to work with her husband, small world! I told her about my interest in living history and collecting vintage. She said she had a few other pieces I might be interested in. Oh and the best part, she gave me a discount on the dress! :) How could I say no to that?

So what's the history of this lovely dress you ask? Well, to start, it is from the 1950s. There's no doubt about that. And it was worn at an inaugural ball for President Dwight Eisenhower! I just don't know which one. Eisenhower was first elected in 1952 and re-elected in 1956. The inaugural balls would have taken place in January of 1953 and January of 1957. (You can see Mamie Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural gown and shoes here.) The seller acquired the dress from the niece of the woman it was made for. I'm hoping I can get in contact with the niece to find out more. A picture of her aunt wearing the dress would be awesome.

There is no marker's label so my guess is that it was home made using a pattern similar the this one. The fabric is shear and embroidered all over with ivory cotton and gold matalic threads. The skirt is very full with its own crinoline sewn underneath. This dress has some very lovely details including the gold bow at the waist and the large gold roses on the skirt. The cutest detail I didn't notice until I got the dress home. Sewn to the bottom front edge of the crinoline are little gold bows and leaves. So sweet!

 The dress fits nicely, just a touch big in the shoulders. I'm hoping for a sunny day so I can get some better pictures outside.


  1. What a spectacular find - and definitely fate, since it just so happens to fit almost perfectly! :-)

  2. Wow! How beautiful! I like that better than some of the gowns the first ladies wore. That would be great to find out who and why!

  3. My mother went to George H Bush's inaugural ball. She still has the dress and it's perfectly 1980s. Bright blue raw silk two piece with shoulder pads fit for a linebacker. It's so great when the story gets passed down with the garment! Makes me want to put tags in everything special I own.

  4. That dress is magnificent. I could easily see it having been worn to an inaugural ball. Your look radiantly beautiful in it, dear Emily!

    ♥ Jessica


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