Lady Bird Johnson, 1965
What She Wore: A yellow gown designed by John Moore, a pearl necklace and white gloves.
What it Meant: Lady Bird Johnson probably had the most difficult task of all First Ladies when selecting her Inaugural Ball outfit. Held just a year after JFK’s assassination, the usually celebratory event was bittersweet: There was sadness, but it was also important to convey a sense of hope. Lady Bird’s yellow gown, a color associated with light and optimism, symbolized this beautifully.
“It was a difficult Inauguration and I think she was trying to send an optimistic message in a difficult time,” Betts said.
Dincuff agrees, though she added that the classic conservative gown also showed the nation that Lady Bird would be a very different First Lady from Jackie Kennedy. Jackie, who despite having worn American designers, was known for her Francophile tastes and for looking to the Parisian runways for inspiration. That Lady Bird chose to wear John Moore, an American designer who, despite having dressed Marilyn Monroe, was still relatively under-the-radar, was according to Dincuff “making a statement in itself.”
“Lady Bird was a very all-American First Lady and you could not doubt that her tastes were very American, very Texas, which she made clear at the Inaugural Ball.”