Last week we lost a true American original: Barbara Bush. Known to her family as ‘The Silver Fox,’ ‘The Enforcer,’ ‘Bar,’ and ‘Ganny,’ — to many of us, she felt like family, too.
I believe the most remarkable quality about Mrs. Bush had nothing to do with her pearl accessories or her snowy coiffure. The exceptional thing about Barbara was that–throughout her life– she always remained true to her authentic self.
She unabashedly admitted that she never had plastic surgery, she never dyed her hair, and she wore pearls at her neck to ‘hide the wrinkles.’ More than any gown she ever put on, Barbara Bush will be remembered for her wisdom, her sincerity, and her humor.
Her entire life was devoted to family and service to others. While some first ladies were noted for setting fashion trends, Barbara wanted to wear things that were attractive and classy, yet comfortable–then move on to something else more meaningful than her wardrobe.
Barbara Bush had a “…no nonsense, let’s get-dressed-and-get-going approach.”
…Jean Patteson, Orlando Sentinel, 1989
It was noted by Chicago Tribune reporter, Michael Kilian, that, “Mrs. Bush dresses well, often expensively, but always to suit herself.”
But Barbara had no trouble mixing the inexpensive with the expensive. It was reported that–although she wore a designer gown to her husband’s 1989 Inaugural Ball–she also donned her signature ‘faux’ pearls and a pair of shoes costing only $29. Now that’s a woman to love.
Mrs. Bush wore the same size as the average American woman: 14/16. High fashion was not her style. She managed to look sophisticated without appearing stuffy. The fact that she never pretended to be anything other than herself made us admire her even more.
In a touching letter, granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager writes of her grandmother:
“You taught us that humor, wit and grace are the best accessories, and that worrying too much about your looks is…boring. ‘Words matter, kindness matters, looks fade’.”
Thank you, Barbara Bush, for sharing your QUINTESSENTIAL STYLE with the world.
And for inspiring us, with a life so abundantly lived.