The former Martha Graham dancer and department store model had a forthright and confident fashion sense that embodied late-seventies mod during a time when it was easy to wear clothes that looked like couch covers. Her distinctive fashion style was marked by her colorful scarves and high-neck Chinese-style collars. Ford used her platform as more than a fashion statement. Though she was First Lady for a mere 29 months, she made haste in fervently supporting the women’s rights movement and popularizing breast cancer awareness in announcing her mastectomy. After Gerald Ford left office, she founded the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction. She was outspoken by nature and a fearless dresser by choice.
As she said herself, “I do not believe that being First Lady should prevent me from expressing my views … Why should my husband’s job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? Being ladylike does not require silence.”