First Lady Nancy Reagan's impact on fashion in the 1980s

First Lady Nancy Reagan's impact on fashion in the 1980s

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President Ronald Reagan and Mrs Nancy Reagan arrive at the inaugural ball in the Washington Hilton on Jan. 21, 1985.Ira Schwarz/ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Ronald Reagan and Mrs Nancy Reagan arrive at the inaugural ball in the Washington Hilton on Jan. 21, 1985.

The 1980s and elegant fashion aren’t terms that typically go together – unless you’re talking about Nancy Reagan.

Reagan, who died Sunday at age 94, is credited with bringing high fashion back to the White House during husband Ronald Reagan’s eight years in office.

“She loved fashion. She loved an elegant look. She set a new standard that hadn’t been there since Jackie Kennedy,” said HollywoodLife editor Bonnie Fuller.

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“She had a huge impact.”

Fuller, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines, said Reagan “brought back entertaining and being very fashionable was part of her signature.”

She set the tone straightaway with an elegant James Galanos gown she wore to the inaugural ball in 1981. Reagan always promoted American designers.

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“She was an actress and he was an actor. They came from a world of glamour and entertainment” and brought it with them to Washington, D.C., Fuller said.

Some of her favorites were Galanos, Oscar de la Renta, Arnold Scaasi and Adolfo.

“She always had this lean figure, and the Adolfo suit really emphasized that,” Fuller said.

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She also loved to wear the color red.

“It got to a point where people started calling it ‘Reagan Red,’” Fuller said.

And while Reagan loved classic looks – “I don’t like a lot of frills and fusses,” she told W Magazine in 2007 – she was also a trailblazer.

24205Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Princess Diana and Nancy Reagan in November 1985.

“What I thought was wonderful about her was for an older woman she would bare her shoulders, and wear strapless gowns or gowns with one shoulder,” Fuller said.

“She wasn’t afraid of that, even as a woman in her 60s. That was a little radical at the time. A lot of women were afraid to do that. For the president’s wife to do that was a big deal.”

Nancy Reagan, right, presents philanthropist Brooke Astor with an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America with designer Oscar de la Renta on Jan. 11, 1988. Ed Bailey/AP

Nancy Reagan, right, presents philanthropist Brooke Astor with an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America with designer Oscar de la Renta on Jan. 11, 1988.

Enlarge President Ronald Reagan and Mrs Nancy Reagan arrive at the inaugural ball in the Washington Hilton on Jan. 21, 1985. Ira Schwarz/ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Ronald Reagan and Mrs Nancy Reagan arrive at the inaugural ball in the Washington Hilton on Jan. 21, 1985.

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