Mamie Beat Jackie On The Style Front

Jackie Kennedy got all the press, but Mamie Eisenhower beat her to the title of White House style queen. "Underappreciated" is how the new semiannual White House History from the White House Historical Association describes Mamie's trailblazing. From personal fashion to tasteful West Wing renovations, it was Mamie who led the way eight years before JFK's stylish wife hit the scene.

Consider fashion. She wore Christian Dior and shopped at Neiman-Marcus, and Elizabeth Arden ordered up seven-point instructions for out-of-town hairdressers on how to produce the first lady's trademark bangs. She also started the practice of using antique furnishings from donors. An equally frugal move: She used old drapes to cover furniture and beds and once "secured parachute silk from a local Army base at 10 cents a yard and instructed the White House seamstress to fabricate curtains."

By Paul Bedard