What Would Eleanor Wear?

What Would Eleanor Wear? Insights from Spey Pearl Jewelry in Washington DC

Few First Ladies have attained near universal adoration and reverence as Eleanor Roosevelt – often dubbed the “First Lady of the world.” During her tenure in the White House (she still has the distinction of being America’s longest-serving First Lady), Eleanor Roosevelt forged a new role for the wife of the president. No longer was the First Lady expected to remain a quiet, dainty hostess or to flutter about as the preeminent ‘plus one.’ Eleanor Roosevelt transformed her role into a formidable force within her husband Franklin’s administration, with the power to help shape the nation.

A tireless advocate against the exploitation of the workforce, a staunch supporter of progressive social welfare policies, and a beacon for civil rights, Eleanor Roosevelt was both activist and stateswoman. Even after she left the stately halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., she was indefatigable as a champion of equality and instrumental in formulating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she personally bulldozed into ratification at the United Nations. Indeed, she very well defined what it means to be a modern, accomplished woman. She had a narrative and style entirely her own – not even overshadowed by that of her husband, the president.


First Lady style

Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t all work and no fun, mind you. She was prolifically creative – as a writer, as an avid entertainer, as the co-owner of a handcrafted furniture workshop, and as a stylish trend setter. Her fashions were chronicled in her travels and her signature accessories (a dash of fur and a splash of pearls) became the accepted norm for any woman of Society. Eleanor Roosevelt was even the first First Lady to be photographed in a bathing suit. Ahead of her time, indeed!

If we at Spey had the privilege of helping Madame First Lady to select a few lustrous pieces to accompany her on her work, we think she would be most drawn to pearl jewelry of simple styling and exquisite tailoring. The richly enigmatic Tahitian pearl strand and matching studs, along with a pearl ring of subtle geometry, come to mind. That’s why we curated a Spey Signature Case inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt and made for women who know how to command a room. It’s time to take a few stylish lessons from the “First Lady of the world” and grab life by the pearls.


Image: Photograph, gelatin silver print, by Yousuf Karsh of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (11 Oct 1884 – 7 Nov 1962) in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh. © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.