She was married to “Silent Cal,” but her style made a loud statement. The ebullient Grace was her husband’s polar opposite–congenial, gregarious, warm–though their first meeting wasn’t any indication of this. She first saw him while she watering flowers in 1903. As she looked up at the open window of a neighboring boardinghouse, she caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge shaving in nothing but long underwear and a hat. Fortunately, her sartorial choices while in office were enough to eclipse this auspicious beginning.
Her trim, sporty frame was the ideal fashion plate for the Jazz Age’s straight-waisted flapper dresses. Her husband so enjoyed her forays that he would purchase frocks for her to wear. He did not always encourage progressiveness, though and reportedly did not like her wearing slacks, bobbing her hair, driving a car, speaking to the press or discussing political matters. Still, she exhibited her outgoing disposition in other ways. She regularly wore bright colors, especially red, and named her dog Rob Roy as a sly show of disapproval of Prohibition (both of these are present in her official First Lady portrait). The public took well to its charismatic First Lady. The New York Times noted that the June 1927 issue of Vanity Fair named her to the magazine’s Hall of Fame because, ”she is the first lady of the land and the wife of the President of the United States; because she is one of the best liked and most charming hostesses in Washington.” As the nation enjoyed the Roaring 20’s, Mrs. Coolidge truly rode the vogue wave:
”It was the 1920’s, Gertrude Ederle had swum the English Channel and there was this great sense of excitement about women and sports, and Grace Coolidge embodied this new athletic ethos,” said Mr. Anthony, the author of several books about first ladies and life in the White House. Newsreels captured her in mountain gear at the couple’s vacation home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She adapted herself to flapper style in a manner so admired that she was awarded a gold locket by the couturier Charles Worth on behalf of the French garment industry. (New York Times)