Lovingly known as “Everybody’s Grandma,” former First Lady Barbara Bush may not have gotten the same credit as a fashionista as her predecessor Nancy Reagan or Michelle Obama later on, but she certainly had her own distinct style that served her well on the world stage. Single handedly responsible to reviving America’s interest in pearls, the literacy advocate, who passed away at her Houston home this week at the age of 92, treated the timeless jewel as a wardrobe staple.
Whether it was the iconic three-strand style she wore to her husband’s 1989 Inaugural Ball or the single strand she was spotted in just last year, Mrs. Bush used the necklaces — and her matching earring collection — as a complement to the colorful skirt suits and dress coats she so often wore.
Famed costume jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane (the same man behind the five-strand pearl neckpiece Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) designed the chunky faux pearl design the then-newly minted First Lady famously wore to the Inauguration with her royal blue Arnold Scaasi gown. Rather than rock the real thing, Bush favored Lane’s faux strands and reportedly bought many of her pieces from him. In 1989, he told the Chicago Tribune that her penchant for the style “sent pearl sales through the ceiling.”
In celebration of her life and style, we are taking a look back at some of Mrs. Bush’s most fashionable pearl moments. Keep scrolling to see our favorites!