Betty Bloomer Ford, 1974-1977

Betty Ford’s State Dinner Dress, 1975 and 1976
Gift of Elizabeth B. Ford

Since there were no formal inaugural celebrations when Gerald Ford became president, Betty Ford chose this pale-green sequined chiffon gown embroidered in a chrysanthemum pattern to represent her in the Smithsonian’s collection. The dress was designed by Frankie Welch.

Betty Ford took over the role of first lady in August 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned and her husband, Gerald Ford, was sworn in as president. She campaigned for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment but is probably best remembered for her response to a diagnosis of breast cancer. The first lady’s open discussion of her illness heightened public awareness of the disease.